CHANDIGARH: Against the backdrop of increased domestic violence during the COVID-19-induced lockdown, a digital khap panchayat was organised for the first time in the country to find ways to tackle the problem.
In free-wheeling discussions involving 57 khaps leaders from Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi as well as social activists like Madhu Kishwar, the focus was on finding the causative factors.
Broad consensus emerged during the meeting that pre-marriage counselling and obtaining the girl’s nod before solemnising the match was important to assess compatibility issues, as these turn out to be flashpoints for trouble later.
Talking with the correspondent, Sunil Jaglan convenor of Rashtriya Maha Khap Maha Panchayat who helmed the initiative, said, "It was felt that in many cases the bridegroom’s academic qualification was less than that of the bride and this caused problems between the couple later.”
A former village sarpanch of Bibipur village Jind district of Haryana Jaglan has started many initiatives for women, including the “Selfie with daughter” which was lauded by PM Narendra Modi. In line with this, he said the khap leaders decided to set up panels at the village level to aid in creation of a harmonious, female-friendly society. As eleven women from Gurugram, Mewat, Delhi and Alwar in Rajasthan also spoke.
There were some voices at the khap panchayat that reflected the traditional perspective. Baljeet Singh Malik of the Gathwala panchayat stressed on the need for girls to be “adjusting”, but many countered this by saying that this argument was cited to exploit women.
A lot of legwork went into making the webinar a reality, with volunteers assigned to each of the khap leaders to arrange the digital event. "Some 230 participants participated in this panchayat today through video conferencing,’’ he said.
"The khaps leaders are not tech savvy it was for the first time they got connected through video conferencing for a panchayat.
It was decided that next month another khaps panchayat will be held in which around 200 khaps leaders and total of 1000 people will participate through this digital platform and it will be on inter caste marriage. As the khaps leaders appreciated this idea,’’ said Jaglan.
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