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6 convicted ‘honor killers’ divide Khaps
Published on 13 Apr. 2010 11:38 PM IST
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: Within hours of one section of leaders of the “Khap mahapanchayat” (grand caste council) of Haryana Tuesday announcing that they would defend the six people convicted of honour killing of a young couple, divisions within the ranks of khap leaders have emerged.
Another section of the leaders, not convinced about the decision at Tuesday’s meeting, later announced that another Khap mahapanchayat would be called in Jind town, 220 km from Chandigarh, May 23 to decide further action.
Earlier, defiant leaders of various khap panchayats decided to support the six convicts and sought an amendment to the Hindu Marriage Act saying marriages within the same ‘gotra’ (sub-caste) should be banned.
The leaders asked the Haryana government to act on their demand by May 23, failing which they would be forced to take a “harder decision” in this matter.
At a chaotic meeting of the mahapanchayat of over 20 khaps from across Haryana, a section of the leaders suddenly announced their decision to support the six convicts, five of whom were last month sentenced to death for killing Manoj and Babli in 2007 for marrying within the same gotra.
“You can see the anger of the people inside this room. If the government does not do anything, the anger will spread on the streets of Haryana,” mahapanchayat convenor Jasbir Malik told IANS after the meeting.
Speakers at the meeting said that the khaps, in recent years, had not given any ruling for honour killing of people or murdering them. They claimed that khap decisions were being followed in the respective societies for ages.
The decision of the Sarv Khap Sarv Jaat Mahasammelan was, however, opposed by a section of khap leaders from Haryana saying all views were not allowed to be expressed at the meeting.
Khap leader Ramesh from the Meham Chaubisi said: “We had come here for the big meeting to discuss various issues. But some leaders took over the meeting and did not allow others to speak. The decision was also taken suddenly and unilaterally and did not take all views into consideration.” In a virtual free-for-all during the meeting, leaders got physical with one another to grab the microphone and have their say. Some women members of various khaps also attended the meeting.
Khap leaders blocked a road here briefly in protest saying the Haryana government would have to assure them that it would write to the central government seeking an amendment in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, to ban marriages within the same sub-caste and even the same village.
During speeches made by various khap leaders, some speakers said the conviction by the Karnal court was against the tradition maintained by the khaps.
“We don’t want a constitution or a law that goes against our age-old tradition. We don’t believe in such a constitution and don’t want to follow it,” one speaker said, virtually challenging the Indian Constitution.
The meeting also decided to collect Rs.10 each from all people who were part of any khap to meet the expenses of defending those convicted for the honour killing of the couple.
The murdered couple, Manoj, 23, and Babli, 19, had married in 2007 against the wishes of their families. Manoj, who ran an electronics repair shop at Kaithal, eloped with Babli, a resident of Karoran village, in May 2007. They were murdered the next month by members of Babli’s family.
Those sentenced to death included Suresh, the brother of Babli, Rajinder and Baru Ram (both uncles) and Gurdev and Satish (both cousins). Khap panchayat leader Ganga Raj, who was also convicted last week for murder along with the other five, was given life imprisonment by the court of additional district and sessions judge Vani Gopal Sharma.
The state government and police officials chose not to say anything on Tuesday’s controversial decision of the khap mahapanchayat.
Defiant khap leaders are headed for a confrontation with the state government and recent rulings of the Punjab and Haryana High Court over illegal decisions announced by various khaps, especially in cases of couples from the same sub-caste who get married.

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