Posted On Saturday, July 14, 2012 at 09:28:20 AM
The decision by a Khap panchayat of a Uttar Pradesh village banning love marriages and restricting use of mobile phones by women below 40 years has rankled politicians and activists across the country.
The activists have urged the government to motivate people to reject the diktats of such panchayats. “Khap panchayats do not have constitutional power. Therefore, they have no right to make such laws.
We are living in the 21st century and when such incidents take place, it is ironical,” Mamta Sharma, chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), told reporters.
“The government should take some action and tell the people not to accept what these panchayats say,” Sharma added. Among the bizarre orders pronounced by the Khap panchayat on Thursday in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district, women in the Asaara village were asked to cover their heads before leaving homes.
BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman pitched for action from the government. “The diktat that women should cover their head and cannot use mobile phones, all this is wrong,” she said.
“Wherever such things happen, government should take action immediately,” she said. Brinda Karat, politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), added that the caste panchayats are entirely “illegal” in existence.
“Caste panchayats are self-declared bodies which have nothing to do with the framing of laws. All the fatwas, diktats and farmans (orders) directed by them are illegal,” Karat said. Villagers at the community gathering in Asaara village declared that couples who opt for love marriages would be ex-communicated.
The women activists have demanded action from the government to motivate people to boycott the hardliners coming up with such diktats. “Such panchayats have no existence in law and there is no point in agreeing to what they say,” said Girija Vyas, Congress leader and member of parliament.
“Government should come forward and tell the people that there is a constitution. And such panchayats have no identity before it,” Vyas told a news channel. Meanwhile, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram too criticised the Taliban-style decision saying that ‘dictates have no place in democracy’. “Dictates have no place in democracy. Police must act against anyone giving dictates,” he said.