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Posted on Oct 05, 12:06PM | IANS
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.
The Gulia khap, which is active in 24 villages of the Jhajjar region, about 40 km from the national capital, is going to felicitate six human and civil rights activists of Pakistan in collaboration with the group Sailor Relief Fund (SRF) for their "outstanding efforts" in the social sector at the International Sadhbhawana Samaroh.
The function will be organised in Laadpur village Oct 14.
"Former Pakistan federal minister for human rights and advisor to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Ansar Burney, will lead the Pakistan activists' group," Sampa Arya, chairperson of SRF, told IANS here.
"Haryana Education Minister Geeta Bhukkal, Deepender Hooda, MP, and vice chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes Raj Kumar Verka will also be present at the function to spread the message of brotherhood and peace among people of both the nations," said Arya.
It was the first time, she said, that a khap would honour foreign human right activists for their commendable work. Khaps are viewed as primarily responsible for encouraging honour killings and caste and community segregation and passing strictures against those who do not follow tradtional social customs.
Now, in July this year, a khap of women in Bibipur village of Jind district had resolved to fight against female foeticide.
The village had a skewed sex ratio of only 845 girls for 1,000 boys.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had 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 in announcing their fight against female foeticide.
"The function is being organised not only to honour those Pakistan social activists who are working with dedication at the international level for social causes but also to make sincere efforts to strike a better rapport between India and Pakistan," said Arya.
Burney, she said, was amongst the few activists who had played a vital role in getting Indian sailors freed from the clutches of Somali pirates in 2011.
"It was none other than Burney who helped six Indian families to get their kin released from the pirates in 2011. One of the captured sailors was my husband Ravinder Gulia," Arya said.
"Representatives of Gulia khap and residents of Laadpur village are excited about this historical programme," said chief of Gulia khap Ramphal Gulia.
"We are inviting people of nearby villages to ensure their significant participation in the programme," said Gulia, adding that the programme could be a milestone in the direction of normalising relations between India and Pakistan.
Apart from the dignitaries, social activists from nearby district and states and residents from 24 villages of Jhajjar district have also been invited to the function.
An interaction over bilateral issues between India and Pakistan would be organised, said Arya.
To ensure the significant participation in the programme, the Gulia khap representatives and the SRF activists were also visiting different villages to inform and invite the villagers, Arya added.
(Ravinder Saini can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)