Women Activists Slam Feudal Panchayats, Demand Action

New Delhi, Jul 13 (IANS): Reacting to the decision of a Khap panchayat (community council) in an Uttar Pradesh village - banning love marriages and restricting movement of women out of homes - women activists Friday came down hard on the feudal bodies, saying "they do not have any legal recognition".

The activists urged the government to motivate people to reject the diktats of such panchayats.

"Panchayats do not have constitutional power. Therefore, they have no right to make such laws. We are living in the twenty-first century and when such incidents take place, it is ironical," Mamta Sharma, chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), told reporters.

"The government should take some action and tell the people not to accept what these panchayats say," Sharma added.

Among various diktats pronounced by a Khap panchayat Thursday in Uttar Pradesh's Baghpat district, women in the Asaara village were asked to cover their heads before leaving homes. Women, younger than 40, were directed not to leave home after sunset.

Brinda Karat, politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said the panchayats are entirely "illegal" in existence.

"Panchayats are self-declared bodies which have nothing to do with the framing of laws. All the fatwas, diktats and farmans (orders) directed by them are illegal," Karat said.

Villagers at the community gathering in Asaara village declared that couples who opt for love marriages would be excommunicated.

The women activists demanded action from the government to motivate people to boycott the hardliners who come up with such diktats.

"Such panchayats have no existence in law and there is no point in agreeing to what they say," said Girija Vyas, Congress leader and member of parliament.

"Government should come forward and tell the people that there is a constitution. And such panchayats have no identity before it," Vyas told a news channel.


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Title: Women Activists Slam Feudal Panchayats, Demand Action

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