The Asara Panchayat on Tuesday denied issuing any diktat against the freedom of womenfolk and blamed the media for "misrepresentation of facts."
“I was not in town at that time but on my return, I realised that elders in the village had a meeting in which they decided to ask girls to refrain from using mobiles, wearing western clothes, going out alone etc. During the meeting, the seniors deplored the age-old practice of dowry being given at the time of marriage to the family of the groom. It was also decided that both boys and girls must be sent to school for education. The Media did not present the correct picture of the decisions taken at that meeting," one Haji Salim from Asara village said explaining the "guidelines" issued by the Panchayat on Saturday.
General Secretary of Jat Mahasabha Yudhvir Singh dismissed any role of the Khap Panchayat in these guidelines.
“It was no way the decision of the Khap Panchayat. The meeting was held among some responsible people of the village who unanimously arrived at the decision to issue guidelines because of sharp rise in the number of criminal incidences against women in the village,” Singh stated.
"We dont want misbehaviour with women on the streets which was a rountine thing here. The women were simply asked to be careful, and to move out with the men of the family in order to ward off any mishappening," Yudhvir explained.
Interestingly, some women from Asara village came out in open support of the "guidelines."
“When Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who is from Italy, can wear Indian traditional outfits then why we as Indians should not do the same. Girls must wear suit-salwar only”, said Reema (name changed on request) from Asara village.
“Provocative clothes should not be worn as they are the cause of rape many a time. Girls are raped because they go out wearing jeans practically inviting a rape. We are happy to shun our western outfits and mobile phones,” said Shama (name changed on request).
Beerpal Rathi, an activist fighting for farmers’ rights in Asara village, informed that the chief of the Panchayat does not take any interest in day-to-day affairs of the village. He lives in New Delhi and broadly manages things from there.
"Also police is not active in our area. When the entire village has happily accepted the precautionary measures or guideliness or what the Media is dubbing as diktats, why is the Central government reacting to it? The Media should also not unnecessarily flare up the matter," he advised.