DHAKLA (HARYANA), Nov 10 - Often in the midst of controversies for their �absurd and illogical� prejudices against women, Khap Panchayats� latest set of �diktats�, however, may just prove to be a blessing in disguise for the distressed victims of bride trafficking from Assam.
The Khap Panchayats of Haryana have now prescribed that its male population must get their marriages registered, especially those involving brides from Assam.
This comes in the wake of the increased frequency in the raids and rescue operations in different villages, which they believe have taken a serious toll on the �status� and �pride� quotient of the male population in Haryana.
Speaking to The Assam Tribune at his residence in Jhajjar district, OP Dhankar, coordinator, Sarv Khap Panchayat (an assembly of some of the controversial and influential Khaps in Haryana) said, �I do not see any problem in Haryana men marrying girls from Assam. It has been the tradition since the days of The Mahabharata. They (Assamese girls) are poor and here they get good food to eat.�
�However, it is hurting our pride now, especially when the police enters and questions villagers about this. We, in our Khap Panchayats, have pressed for registration of marriages, especially involving the brides from Assam and West Bengal,� said Dhankar, who is also the president of Haryana Dhankar Sabha.
Reacting to this, Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, an NGO working relentlessly against bride trafficking, who also has petitioned in the Supreme Court against honour killing and against legal validity of the killings ordered by Khap Panchayats, said, �There is nothing illegal about marrying girls from other states. All we want to ensure is that girls are not subjected to torture or sexual violence in the name of marriage, which has been the case all these years. The marriages have to be legally valid.�
Haryana, thanks to the situation it is in due to the skewed sex ratio caused by rampant acts of foeticide, is a major destination for bride trafficking and forced marriages, especially involving girls from Assam and West Bengal.
�We still do not know how many girls are in need of help. We have been conducting rescue operations from time to time to rescue girls from Assam,� Rishi Kant said.
�Governments both in Haryana and Assam must take some concrete steps to save the distressed girls from Assam, who continue to remain at the receiving end of torture inflicted by men in Haryana,� he pointed out.
He added that the nexus of human trafficking is very well-oiled and stakes too are very high, which is why a multi-pronged approach is needed.
"The sooner it is, the better," Rishi added.
A couple of Assamese girls who were interviewed by this correspondent in Jhajjar district confessed that they were brought to Haryana from Assam by a middlemen who later vanished and they were left with no choice.
Activists feel that registration of marriages should give a better insight to the dreadful and flourishing trend of 'bride trafficking' to Haryana, which the Governments both in Assam and Haryana had chosen to overlook over the years.