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Punjab village ‘bans’ love marriages after couple ties the knot

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LUDHIANA: After two youngsters who lived in neighbouring houses at Chankoian Khurd village in Doraha married for love, the enraged panchayat passed a resolution banning love marriages. Not content with that, they also pasted an order asking residents to socially boycott the family at several places in the village.
On April 29, members of the gram panchayat, local gurdwara committee and village sports clubs signed a resolution to boycott couples marrying for love. This came after a woman and a youth who lived in the same street married each other.
The resolution read, “If any boy or girl gets married of their own accord, the village will socially boycott them. If any family member or village resident keeps ties with such couples, they too shall be boycotted”. It added that no shopkeeper would be allowed to sell commodities to such persons. Such couples would not be allowed to use the village common land, nor would they be provided with any facility by the panchayat or gurdwara. The villagers passed the resolution and pasted it on the wall at the local bus stop and in a street about 50 metres from the houses of the couple.
Justifying the resolution, acting sarpanch Hakam Singh said it is not a diktat and has been passed by the entire village. He said after the couple got married, the girl’s grandfather and other family members came to them asking for such a resolution, saying they would set themselves on fire if it was not passed.
The village leader said the resolution is not like a khap panchayat order but has been issued to stop marriages between couples of the same neighbourhood. He also claimed the resolution is not a violation of Supreme Court orders as villagers haven’t harmed anyone.
Shingara Singh, the girl’s grandfather confirmed that he brought the matter to the notice of the village panchayat and is satisfied with the resolution adopted by the village. Relatives of the girl said after she eloped with the youth, they informed the police but later found that the couple got married in a Ludhiana court last week.
Jang Singh, the youth’s grandfather said he is terminally ill and all he knows is that the couple are not in the village. He said he does not know where they are. His neighbours said the youth, who is into the business of boring tubewells, has studied upto Class VI and the girl has studied upto Class XII. They said the woman’s family asked her to return but she did not do so.
The district panchayat officer said the village panchayat did not approve the resolution and enter it in the official register. However, sources said even though the panchayat has not made an entry in the register, the acting sarpanch and other members signed the document.
Legal experts said the resolution passed by the panchayat and gurudwara committee does not hold legal ground and is a violation of fundamental rights (right to life) guaranteed to a citizen under the constitution.

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