India’s khaps’ feudal and regressive policies have mutated into a gunda raj where all they do is oppress minorities, harass couples and pass down bizarre diktats.
1. Banning girls from wearing jeans, using mobile phones and the internet
A Khap Panchayat in Shoram village in UP passed a diktat banning women from wearing jeans, using phones and the internet. This ban was actually passed down in 2014 and affected 46 villages, but has been getting coverage again recently. It happened after a few girls from the village eloped.
2. Banning boys from wearing shorts in public
A khap panchayat in Shamli had this to say about the ban –
“Men wearing shorts in public places sets bad precedent. If girls are discouraged from wearing jeans, why should boys not be banned from wearing shorts? We do not differentiate between sons and daughters.”
3. Banning tenants from the Northeast in Munirka
A group of Khap leaders allegedly got together and ordered several landlords in Munirka to evict their Northeastern tenants. More information on this case is awaited, as several activists have filed a police complaint regarding this.
4. Ordering the rape and naked parade of women
The Khap Panchayat in Meerut ordered the rape and consequent naked parading of 2 sisters. This was supposed to be punishment for their brother eloping with an upper caste woman.
5. Lowering the minimum marriageable age to 15
Randhir Singh, a senior Khap leader, had once suggested that the minimum age of marriage for girls should be reduced, since they have “Physically grown up by the time they’re 15.”
6. Threatening to not have any girl children
Naresh Tikait, the head of the Balyan Khap and repeat offender of the senses, threatened to destabilise society by not giving birth to girls. This was in response to the SC rapping khaps for their regressive marriage policies. He also said that in case a girl was born, they wouldn’t allow her to be educated, and so she wouldn’t have a mind of her own.
7. Threatening to kill a couple who wanted to marry within the same caste
Police in Bajehda village provided security to a couple after the khap panchayat there ordered their deaths. The couple are from the same gotra, which is why the khap was opposed to their marriage.
8. The lynching of Ved Pal Moan
In March 2009, a khap congregation publicly pronounced the death sentence for Ved Pal for marrying someone from a neighbouring village. On the way to visit his wife, Ved Pal Moan was brutally beaten to death.
9. Parading an elderly man around the village with a shoe in his mouth
In December 2009, Azad Singh, the father of a newly wed groom, was forced to hold a shoe in his mouth in front of the whole village by the khaps. This was ‘punishment’ for letting the 2 get married. Azad was 65-years old.
10. Blaming chowmein for rapes in India
Ah yes, who can forget these pearls of wisdom by a Haryana Khap in 2012 –
“To my understanding, consumption of fast food contributes to such incidents. Chowmein leads to hormonal imbalance evoking an urge to indulge in such acts. You also know the impact of chowmein, which is a spicy food, on our body. Hence, our elders also advised to consume light and nutritious food.”
They’re talking about why incidences of rape are increasing.
A regimented system of oppression like the khaps only allows them to hold sway over every aspect of their people’s lives. It’s high time this feudal system was brought down to size.