“We realised that the real cause of boys not getting married in Haryana is gender imbalance in the State. We will run a campaign against female foeticide in our area and would associate other Khaps in the movement as well. ” —Hawa Singh, Leader, Sangwan Chalisa Khap Panchayat
Known for violence Khap Panchayats, which once prohibited marriages within the same clan gotra, and the inter-caste marriages is now on a move to reform its 600-year-old tradition and are now favouring inter-caste marriages.
The well-known Khap Panchayat known for its cruel decisions which includes honour-killings and social boycott of the person marrying within the same gotra or in different community is now uprising and allowing such marriages for its own self-centered reasons. Although, there is no harm in allowing inter-caste or inter-religion marriages as one never asks caste or religion of the brides brought from other states. Almost, 15 brides have been brought to Mankawas Village, Bhiwani District (one of the prominent village of Sangwan Chalisa Khap) from other states, including West Bengal and Assam every year, after the young men failed to get any marriage proposals within Haryana and from other states.
This year has marked a number of reforms by Khap Panchayats in Haryana. In the month of April, Satrol Khap allowed inter-caste marriages within a cluster of villages, simultaneously prominent social council of Haryana, Sangwan Khap of Bhiwani district has given a green signal to such alliances besides granting permission for inter-religion weddings. Bhiwani District has witnessed a drastic fall in the child sex ratio (0-6 years) in the past 12 years. According to recent figures of the State health department, there are now just 847 girls for each 1,000 boys in the 0-6 year age group against the overall gender ratio of 941 women per 1,000 men in 2001.
“We understood that the real cause of boys not getting married is gender imbalance in Haryana. We will run a campaign against female foeticide in our area and would associate other Khaps in the movement as well. But meanwhile, we have to find out a way-out so this decision has been taken,” said Hawa Singh, a retired district school sports teacher and leader of Sangwan Chalisa Khap Panchayat.
There are around 60 villages dominated by Sangwan gotra in Bhiwani, which falls under the jurisdiction of Sangwan Chalisa, a gotra-based Khap, unlike the area-based Satrol Khap which is spread over a cluster of 42 villages in Hisar. Both the panchayats have relaxed matrimonial restrictions keeping in view of the growing army of bachelors.
Now, the recent ground-breaking pronouncement has been done by Jat Khap Panchayat of Jaurasi-Fatehpur village to put an end to the ban on the inter-caste marriage and has brought the proposal to Gurgaon village. The panchayat of 25 villages was held recently and it was unanimously decided to lift the ban. This break has been taken mainly because of rampant female foeticides leading to a skewed sex ratio of 879 girls for every 1,000 males. Haryana is the worst State in this aspect. The country's sex ratio improved to 943 in the 2011 census against 933 females per 1,000 males in the 2001 census.
There are many instances of inter-religion marriages in Haryana due to shortage of girls and due to skewed sex ratio. As of now, the Khap Panchayats have not permitted inter-religion marriages openly, but would table this agenda in the upcoming Khap Panchayat meeting to brighten chances of young men getting settled. Inter-caste marriages were creating disputes because of the absence of approval by social council for such weddings. But after this, there won't be any such problems. -Monica Sangwan