People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 16

April 18, 2010

AIDWA Lambasts Khap Mahapanchayat�s Demands


IN a statement issued from New Delhi on April 14, the All India Democratic Women�s Association (AIDWA) has expressed deep concern about the demand for amendment to the Hindu Code Bill that has been made by the khap mahapanchayat in the wake of the recent landmark judgement of the Karnal district court in the Manoj-Babli case. (See p 4 on the details of this case and the issues involved.) The Hindu Code Bill did away with centuries old injustice and there is no way that the women of this country will allow any dilution.

Murder under any name can never be justified, and the attempt by the khap panchayats to do so is violative of the rule of law in our country. The AIDWA has demanded that the murderers of couples like Manoj and Babli must be made accountable for their crime. Any attempt for justification under the guise of protecting the �tradition and culture,� as defined by these self-styled gatekeepers, has to be resolutely thwarted.

Moreover, the right of an adult to marry a person of one�s choice is a fundamental constitutional right that has to be zealously safeguarded from the regressive casteist elements who are trying to retain their hold on society by using threats and force.

The AIDWA statement also pointed out that the demand for amending the Hindu Code Bill to prevent same gotra marriages is a careful attempt to provide a seemingly scientific cover for what is in fact a challenge to the constitution. In many marriages where couples have been subjected to violence, the issue has not been one of gotra at all. The Haryana unit of AIDWA has intervened in many such cases, and found that most of the marital disputes were not because of marriages within the gotra or within the village yet the couples were thrown out of their villages and their parents were publicly humiliated. In some cases, this has been an excuse to drive away the concerned family to take over their land and property. The assertion of power over the community is a very blatant reason for this whole exercise.

Hence the AIDWA has called upon all democratic forces to meet such threats so that these regressive forces are not permitted to push back what has been achieved by way of our legal entitlements. The state too must come forward to safeguard the legal rights of its citizens. On the Ambedkar Jayanti Day this year, the AIDWA recalled Baba Saheb Ambedkar�s historic attempts to enshrine gender and caste equality in the Indian constitution, and pledged to carry forward the struggle for securing our democratic rights. (INN)