On August 17, the Supreme Court sought a response from the Uttar Pradesh government on a plea by a Dalit woman from Baghpat district seeking protection for herself and her sister against an alleged khap panchayat diktat. In the plea, the woman alleged the khap had ruled that the sisters be raped as punishment after their brother had supposedly eloped with a married woman from the Jat community in the same village.
But in Baghpat’s Sankrod, the village to which the sisters belong, locals expressed “surprise and shock” when asked about the supposed diktat. They said no such khap panchayat had been convened in the region for decades. The village to which both families belong has a significant Dalit-Jat-Muslim population, and the elected sarpanch, Bala, belongs to the Valmiki community.
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Bala said: “Yeh to bahut naram aur thanda gaon hain. Agar yaha pe kuch hojaye, hum sab milke sambal lete hai. Yeh khap ki khabar sun ke hum sabko jhatka laga hai. (Ours is a very peaceful village. Whenever there’s an issue, we sit together and resolve it. The news of a khap diktat has come as a shock to us. I am a Dalit and it is my responsibility to ensure their welfare and safety. Such extreme rumours are absolutely baseless.”
Baghpat SP Sharad Sachan, too, said there was no khap organised in the village and no question of any diktat.
“The matter is now in the Supreme Court, so I do not want to comment on any allegations and counter-allegations. However, as far a khap is concerned, no such event was organised, so where does the question of any diktat arise?” he told The Indian Express.
Sankrod is part of a cluster of 360 villages and the khap panchayat here is headed by Jeetendra Singh, who told The Indian Express, “If something has to happen, then a collective decision is taken. In recent times there was not even a gathering of the panchayat. Where does the question of a diktat arise? Even if we assume that two representatives came from each village, then there will be more than 500 witnesses to the event. No such gathering has taken place. This is baseless and shocking.”
While the sisters moved the apex court in Delhi, a Jat woman approached a local court against their brother on charges of molestation. In her complaint, the woman alleged that the boy lured her on the pretext of getting her a job with the Delhi police. The local court is scheduled to pass an order on the plea on September 7.
In her complaint against the Dalit youth, the woman alleged: “He had told me that he will get me a job in Delhi as his brother and sister-in-law were employed there. He then took my school certificates and told me that he will fill the job form. In February this year, he told me we will have to go to Delhi. There, he and his brother sexually harassed me.”
Asked why she did not file a complaint then, she said, “My first marriage was called off, after I informed the family about the incident. My parents told me I would be an outcast and no one would marry me. That is why I did not inform the police.”