Lucknow – Khaps, the body of village elders in northern India often associated with regressive social diktats, may be turning a new leaf after widespread criticism of their practices. At least a start has been made in a western Uttar Pradesh village where a sarv (larger) khap panchayat decided to launch a campaign against female foeticide and has announced a cash reward of Rs.2,100 for families with three daughters.
This, a member of the sarv khap panchayat said, was being done “after realization that girls were as important as boys.” Sarv khap panchayat general secretary Subhash Baliyan said a decision to this effect was taken at a khap meeting over the weekend at Nala vllage in Shamli district of western Uttar Pradesh.
Among other major decisions, he informed, the khap also decided to ban “splurging in weddings, minimize grandeur at marriages and curtail the ‘brahm bhoj’ (community meal)” which often burdened the bride’s family.
It was also decided that for the engagement, only five people from the groom’s family will go to the girl’s house while only 21 people will participate in the marriage procession, thus giving the much sought after financial relief to the overburdened bride’s family.
Major Mahendra Singh Nala (retd), another senior office bearer of the sarv khap panchayat, said that they wanted society to be strengthened while also doing away with the existing ills.
“We are not always anti-progress though we may not be on the same page with modern society,” another khap member told IANS, not wishing to be named.
The sarv khap panchayat also decided to encourage girls to study and pursue higher education even after marriage. Khap panchayats have so far courted controversies for banning mobile phones, banning jeans for girls, banning love marriages and many more Taliban-kind diktats.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at email@example.com)