By Abhishyant Kidangoor:Â
The 21st century has seen the world undergo a major revolution. India has also gone through a mind blowing transformation. However, the recent diktat issued by a certain panchayat in Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, highlights the plights and oppression faced by women and puts the country in a bad light as far as social development is concerned. The panchayat has banned women from using mobile phones outside of their homes and from walking unescorted at night. Love marriages have also been banned and those who fail to follow these rules would have to face serious consequences. Ironical is the fact that this city is situated just 42 km from New Delhi, the capital city and one of the most advanced and modern cities in the country.
The issuance of these diktats has caused several organizations working for human rights and women’s rights to come ahead and protest. In a country, which boasts of being the largest democracy in the world, this is indeed disheartening.
Khap panchayats have been scrutinized on several occasions earlier, for their issuing such extreme diktats, not to mention honour killings. These are nothing but barbaric acts and often question the credibility of our democracy. The equal and fair treatment of both the sexes is one of the prominent features of our democracy. The violation of this right is not something to be tolerated and is to be seriously dealt with.
However, the response of the several political parties to this issue has been even more disappointing. These parties are interested only in collecting votes and being in power. The development of the country occupies the last slot in their agenda. The leader of a certain party even went to support the panchayat’s decision stating that the panchayat holds all rights to take decisions regarding the being of its members. As far as these money minded and megalomaniac leaders are concerned, vote is what defines their lives and supporting a certain panchayat, for whatsoever reason it maybe, would help them garner more support and ultimate power.
On one hand the highly unfair ruling of the khap panchayats and the support that they get from political leaders is extremely disappointing. It is in fact, a criminal offence to meddle with the basic human rights of a person. However on the other hand, the rise in molestation and rape of women is alarming. While it might seem unfair to restrict the movement of women after dark, such a decision might have been taken under pressure, in order to protect their women from such abuses. So who is the real criminal here? One might wonder!
The recent incident in Guwahati came as a shock to many and revealed how unsafe our country has become. In reality, the diktat issued by the panchayat might have been to prevent such incidents. However such an act of repression is not welcome. Steps are to be taken such that the wrong doers are brought to light and punished rather than making the victims suffer. In this case, the ones in agony are being agonized further.
In a nation, which has produced powerful and inspiring women laurels like Indira Gandhi and Kalpana Chawla, such a situation is atrocious. Neither are women safe nor are effective fair measures being taken to protect their basic rights. Looks like true democracy is still a distant dream.