Recent statement by Arvind kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav on Khap that people have right to assemble, started huge discussion on electronic and social media. Hitherto, most of the political parties have been supporting Khap for political mileage but never had been such hue and cry. This shows that AAP has identified itself with revolution, modernity and with poor, exploited class and those who oppose AAP have an opportunity to exploit this!
Well, my article is not to support AAP’s stand here but to analyse the history, present and future of Khap and help politically or socially conscious people to form some opinion about it?
Khap is an old institution, probably more than 400-500 years. This came into existence to help a village or a settlement to resolve issues or disputes arising among themselves. This of course could not have been planned institution like in modern era, but evolved through generations and what we see today, was definitely not there in earlier times. Its sole role was to administer themselves and we can even call it a form of Swaraj.
As time passed, it was natural for Khap to encompass social and economic element. Politics might not have been part of it till recent times as we see it today.
Few days back I was in a small meeting of AAP, Matiyala constitution (encompassing most part of Dwrka), comprising 50-60 volunteers, I raised this subject. Almost everyone agreed with the AAP’s stand on Khap, yet few wanted to abolish it, at least in phased manner, if not immediately!
Khap’s politicisation, especially after Independence, has given it a powerful authority to control the village or villages that it administers. How this came into being? Khap was respected for its quick and somewhat unbiased decisions which helped to maintain ‘law and order’ along with its old culture and superstitious faiths. Its orders or diktats were honoured, failing which the culprits were even punished through social boycott which also naturally included economic punishment!
Politicians found it very convenient to approach them and muster votes of entire community. Bribing few was easier than fulfilling the manifesto for the entire community. In turn, the Khap also managed to get political and police plus administrative support for its legal and if required illegal acts. Here started criminal activities, as Khap was approached by two rival political groups and that made what we have the ‘modern Khap’. Now Khap was controlled by influential few!
Supreme Court: – Hindu reported on 20 April, 2011-
This is wholly illegal and has to be ruthlessly stamped out. There is nothing honourable in honour killing or other atrocities and, in fact, it is nothing but barbaric and shameful murder. Other atrocities in respect of the personal lives of people committed by brutal, feudal-minded persons deserve harsh punishment. Only this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism and feudal mentality. Moreover, these acts take the law into their own hands, and amount to kangaroo courts, which are wholly illegal.
This sums up the present day “Modern Khap” and the apex court’s understanding and desire to stamp out this rogue entity!! By the way, Khap continues working under the garb of Panchayat or the gatherings of people to do local justice, (may not be as open as Salava Judum in Maoists infected area, started by Congress and continued by BJP but declared illegal by SC) and criminal acts in crushing love marriages if its inter caste or in same Gotra, in name of maintaining purity of the community!
In passing, we will see what is Gotra or clan? It is descendants of a common mother since ages, when concept of father did not exist, as there did not exist the concept of one man and one woman or what we see today as marriage institution. Gotra was first negation of man and woman getting married, during development of human beings, in a group after negating marriage in two generations. This in simple words means, humans stopped marrying their own parents or children and later brothers and sisters. Gotra meant all offspring of a common mother and marriage was not permissible among them. However, this natural understanding of Gotra is not understood by most of the sociologists and they take it as common descendants of man or Rishi-Muni and as a planned outcome and not as part of evolution!
Almost all political parties have openly supported Khap, but hue and cry on media started after Yogendra Yadav, leader of AAP, told that Khap has some positives!
Supporting Khap’s role in society, he had maintained that such panchayats help in bringing together people and resolving their issues. However, he said that Khaps “indulging in activities not permitted under law was intolerable”
Later, clarifying its stand on Khap panchayats, the Aam Aadmi Party said any organisation that sought to use coercion, violated the law and defended murders was “absolutely unconstitutional”
Well, Khap is an organisation, which has lasted 400-500 years and has undergone massive changes. Initially and till approx. 50-60 years back it might have been helpful for the community or larger part of society, but now has run out of its usefulness and has become hindrance in the progress to society from where it sprang. It has become part of political and economic outfit to keep the people divided in name of caste or religion and sabotage their unity to fight against the exploitative society, which is desirable by the corrupt political parties and their bosses, the big corporates.
A womb, is useful to the foetus for approx. 9 months but later it becomes hindrance to the child as well as the mother. The Khap is hub centre of reaction in rural areas of Harayana, Western UP and many other parts of India and needs to be weeded out. AAP intention is good and wants to curb the illegal portion of it, but will it succeed in doing so with existing corrupt system?
Further, if we have Gram and Mohalla sabha and elected panchayats, do we need this Khap? Not to my mind, best, it may be left to the evolving society which is undergoing a massive turbulent changes and which wants freedom from economic, social and political chains! Another option is to demolish Khap in bit slow but steady manner in competition with other Swaraj outfits and strict law and order through people’s government. But whatever the manner, we must say good bye to Khap!