The residents of Khera Khap in Haryana’s Jind district have come up with a unique initiative to put an end to caste barriers in the society. On June 29, Khera Khap, which comprises of 24 villages, decided to do away with surnames and titles. The decision was taken after Satbeer Pehelwan, head of Kheda khap, called a meeting at Bhausla village to talk about the rising casteism in the society. All the members unanimously decided to abandon their surnames and identity themselves with the names of their respective villages. Even though the initiative is still in its infancy, Pehelwan says that is already getting widespread support from all quarters. Not just his own villagers, he claims that even intellectuals from across the country have lauded the move.
Over the years, Haryana has witnessed several incidents of honour killing, caste based atrocities and violent agitations in the demand for caste-based reservations. Khaps have often been accused of legitimising honour killings and promoting feudal practices in the name of brotherhood going to all extents to protect their culture.
In March 2018, Supreme Court ruled that honour killings violate individual liberty and freedom of choice and said that khap panchayats had no role in deciding consent in marriages.
However, caste-based violence isn’t restricted only to Haryana. Between 2006 to 2016, crime rate against dalits rose by 25% in India. From 16.3 crimes per 100,000 dalits reported in 2006, it has increased to 20.3 crimes in 2016, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of 2016 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.
Meanwhile, a total of 28 cases in 2014, 251 cases in 2015 and 77 cases in 2016 were reported with motive as Honour Killing. As of now, there is no separate law for honour killing and these cases were registered under murder (section 302 IPC) & culpable homicide not amounting to murder (section 304 IPC). But will it be able to eradicate caste-barriers? Everything will depend on how its implemented.