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Dealing with khap panchayats

The article “In the name of Justice” (Spectrum, April 26) was a little hazy. The legacy of khap panchayat should be reviewed in historical, cultural, social and scientific perspective. Of late, the ancient most rural institution of khap panchayat of Northern India is under severe attack on marriage issue. And this criticism is coming from those who have little understanding about rural setting.

Khap panchayats have existed in India since Mauryan times. They also find mention in the records of Pratiharas and the succeeding dynasties of Chahamanas, Ghadvalas, Paramaras and Chaulkayas. Initially, the British made full use of the pre-existing apparatus of administration, especially in the departments of revenue, police, and justice where local people held authority.

The expenditure, the delays, the legal mumbo-jumbo of the present system are a curse for the simple village folk. The rural people even today have faith in the institution of the khap panchayat. People approach these autonomous bodies to redress their grievances — social, religious or political. This institution, in Haryana, thus, is a force to reckon with.

Wise counsel will prevail upon the intellectuals, social scientists and legal luminaries to understand that law is made for society and not the other way round. Oscar Lewis, in his book Village Life in Northern India, has expressed concern over the dilution of this significant rural body.



In olden days, Khap assemblies were justified to settle disputes among the baradri/gotra families, but now times have changed. However, some orthodox sections are not changing their ideology.

On one hand, the government is encouraging inter-caste marriages, and on the other, these very couples are being killed on the khaps’ fiat.

The government is a mute spectator to all this. Khap panchayats should be banned as there are democratically elected village panchayats, MLAs and MPs to resolve such matters.

SHER SINGH, Ludhiana


While khap panchayats have kept mum on social evils like female foeticide, dowry deaths and domestic violence, they are very harsh in case of same gotra marriages. God helps such couples because these panchayats can issue diktats to declare their marriage null and void.

Sometimes the boy and the girl are killed ruthlessly at the behest of these panachayat leaders. Dr Khajan Singh of MD University, Rohtak, has aptly pointed out that the khaps have a better chance of survival if they limit themselves to social justice.


God’s presence

The review of The Birth of God (Spectrum, March 29) was interesting. A few days ago, a Class VII student asked me how and when God was born.

I told her that God is immortal. He is formless, omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient but we can’t see Him.

He is an abstract entity and the creation of one’s unshakable faith in him. The child was satisfied but now I will recommend The Birth of God to her.


We need to have educated representatives

I read Virendra Kumar’s article, “Qualification for MPs: A degree alone is no index of one’s capacity to serve people” (Perspective, April 26).

Surprisingly, the writer has taken a narrow legalistic view of an important matter. Downplaying the importance of education in politics, that too, coming from a professor, is rather strange.

Yes, attributes like character, devotion to duty or concern for people’s welfare cannot be the monopoly only of those holding high degrees, but how can one say that illiterate or semi-literate persons are sure to possess these traits?

Education enhances one’s general awareness and analytical ability. An educated MP would be better equipped to deal with complex issues than a semi-literate one. A minimum qualification is a must for those contesting the elections to Parliament and state legislatures.

Wg-Cdr C.L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar



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