Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda described Khap Panchayats as “NGOs” and a part of Indian culture, unfazed by his Congress party’s condemnation of the village councils often accused of dispensing medieval-style justice.
“Khap Panchayat is an NGO. It’s like if you go to Gurgaon there is a welfare association,” said Mr. Hooda.
Two days ago, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said it was “appalling” to see anybody say that khap panchayats are a part of Indian culture, a direct reference to Arvind Kejriwal’s comments in their support. “(There are) many forces (like Khaps) that spread poison. How can someone tell a young girl or a boy what to wear or not? People know what they are expected to do. Who is this khap panchayat to say, do this or do that?” he said at a gathering of Delhi college students.
Mr. Kejriwal was criticised for saying that he saw no reason to ban these councils, as they serve a “cultural purpose”. His Aam Aadmi Party had to clarify that they didn’t support any decision that violates law. “All castes tend to have their social organisations, which do internal dispute resolution. We certainly acknowledge the right of all such organisations to exist,” senior AAP leader Yogendra Yadav had said.
Khap panchayats, which are all-male unelected village bodies, are notorious for issuing extra-judicial diktats in parts of rural India, especially in northern states, and enjoy immense political influence. The Haryana chief minister and other politicians in the state have rarely spoken against these bodies, no matter what their parties say.