In Dhariwal gotra-dominated Jaurasi-Fatehpur villages of Mewat, the Jat Khap Panchayat has abandoned a 500-year-old practice of ‘pagribandi’ (brotherhood) with five villages.
“A maha panchayat held between seniors members of Jaurasi-Fatehpur (that holds chaudhar or leadership of 12 villages) and Gurgaon Gaon (that holds leadership of 18 villages) has decided to allow marriages in these five Jat villages — Gurgaon Gaon, Basai, Khandsa, Garauli and Dhanwapur, something which was banned till now,” Devender Dhariwal, sarpanch of Jaurasi village, said.
While sources said the decision may have been taken to improve the skewed sex ratio (879 girls for every 1,000 males), a result of female foeticide, the panchayat said “female foeticide is a thing of past”.
“This the first time a khap panchayat has taken such a progressive step. The Jat community has been very strict regarding marriages, but now we are changing with time,” 80-year-old panchayat member Ved Ram Dhariwal said.
However, the younger generation feel differently. Teenage girls studying in the high school in Jaurasi said despite the decision, they would never have the freedom to choose their life partners.
“We have never stepped out of Jaurasi, leave alone voicing opinions on grooms”, a girl student of the school, which has around 250 girls and 500 boys, said.
The community head, meanwhile, maintained that they were still against “same-gotra marriages”. In the five villages, no one is of Dhariwal gotra, Ved Ram said.
“We are still against marriages within the same gotra. Young men and women were finding it difficult to find the right life partners. The decision will give them options.”
Till now, the people of Jaurasi village married their daughters to grooms from Palwal and Jhajjar districts of Haryana. Sons were married into Bawal, Haryana, and Kot Qasim, Rajasthan.
People of Jaurasi feel the new decision will benefit girls more than boys. Prahlad Dhariwal, a senior panchayat member and grandfather of two girls who have just completed their MBBS, said, “Earlier it was difficult to find well educated boys in Haryana. Now I can find suitable matches outside the village.”