Chautala defends 'Khap' remarks

Last Updated: Thu, Oct 11, 2012 07:33 hrs

Indian National Lok Dal President Om Prakash Chautala Thursday defended himself and said he did not support the suggestions made by a Khap Panchayat to marry off girls early to prevent rape incidents in Haryana.

"I am not supporting the decision of Khaps. If any Khap has given any suggestion on girl´s marriage then the government should consider the matter," Chautala told media.

"We do not support or condemn anyone´s statements," he said.

"The Khap has made a suggestion. Now, it is up to the Haryana government to decide if they want to go forward with it," Chautala said.

Chautala on Wednesday triggered controversy as he backed the opinion given by the council of village elders to prevent rape incidents in the state.

"One should learn from the past. In the Mughal era people used to marry off their small girls at an early age in order to save them from Mughal atrocities. A similar situation is currently arising in the state," Chautala told reporters on Wednesday.

"I feel that this is perhaps the reason that made the Khap take such a decision," he said.

A Khap Panchayat in Haryana reportedly said marriageable age for girls should be decreased to 16 for reducing rape cases in the north Indian state.

Khap Panchayat is a council of village elders who exercise significant amount of control over social norms and traditions in Indian villages.

Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday met the family members of a Dalit girl, who committed suicide after being gangraped, in Jind district of Haryana and rejected the recommendations of the Khap Panchayat on the issue of marriage saying ´the law is in the hands of the judiciary´.

"We have a democratic system here. We have a judiciary. The law is in the hands of the judiciary and nobody else," Gandhi told reporters on Tuesday.

Several rape cases have incidents have occurred in the state in the past one month.

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