Haryana khap seeks to build India-Pakistan
Having got a bad name for their unlawful social diktats, Haryana's
khap panchayats, as kangaroo courts are known in villages across
the state, are now working to change their image and work towards
improvement of India-Pakistan ties.
Jhajjar (Haryana): In
a first of its kind of initiative, a community Khap (community
council) in Haryana Sunday honoured Pakistani human rights
activist Ansar Burney for helping in the release of Indian sailors
held captive by Somali pirates.
Burney was honoured by Gulia Khap, one of Haryana's prominent
khaps, in collaboration with an NGO 'Sailor Relief Fund' (SRF) at
Laadpur village in Jhajjar district, about 30 km from Delhi. He
was honoured for "significant contribution in social sector at
Burney helped six Indian families to get their kin released from
the pirates in 2011. One of the captured sailors, Ravinder Gulia,
belonged to the Gulia community.
Addressing the gathering, Burney, a former Pakistan federal
minister for human rights and advisor to the United Nations Human
Rights Council, blamed political leadership in India and Pakistan
for creating "unfriendly and tense atmosphere" between the two
"Petty politics is being played by a few political leaders in
India and Pakistan to get political mileage for fulfilling their
vested interests. This has drawn a line of hatred between two
brothers (India and Pakistan) and resulted in unusual and tensed
relations between them," Burney said.
People of the two nations not only wish peace but also want to
come close to each other, he added.
"In Pakistan, I am labelled as an 'Indian agent' for helping
several Indians get justice or bailing them out from crisis. I
feel pain and distress when I have to face lot of difficulty and
to make so many efforts in getting visa for India."
"Every time, I have to approach the higher authorities to get visa
for India but I always feel better after coming and interacting
with people here," said Burney, adding that a strong political
will is needed from both sides to get the relations better between
the two nations.
Burney maintained that several social and human activists from
India and Pakistan have been working in the direction of restoring
brotherhood, harmony and congenial atmosphere between India and
"I am fully confident that we will succeed in our mission one day
and doors of peace will open from both the sides," he said.
Expressing confidence about release of Indian prisoner Sarabjit
Singh from Lahore jail soon, Burney said: "We have filed an appeal
with the president of Pakistan for granting mercy to Sarabjit
Singh and I believe that the president will definitely help us by
considering the appeal."
It was the first time that a khap panchayat honoured a foreign
human right activist.
Haryana khaps are viewed as primarily responsible for encouraging
honour killings and caste and community segregation, and for
passing strictures against those who do not follow traditional
social customs, especially in marriages.
However, in July this year, a khap of women in Bibipur village of
Jind district took an unsual initiative and resolved to fight
against female foeticide. The village had a skewed sex ratio of
only 845 girls for 1,000 boys.
The Haryana government announced a grant of Rs.1 crore (Rs.10
million) for the village following this initiative.
Three other khaps in Fatehabad, Bhiwani and Kaithal districts also
followed, announcing their fight against female foeticide.
Haryana Education Minister Geeta Bhukkal, Rohtak MP Deepender
Singh Hooda and National Commission for Scheduled Castes vice
chairman Raj Kumar Verka, who were also present on the occasion,
appreciated the efforts taken by the Gulia Khap to spread the
message of brotherhood and peace among people from India and