A village, a community demonized
for a TRP rating?.
last year was a nondescript small village in Western U.P.. Now it is the
symbol of repression of women, of banning them from using mobiles, taking
evening walks or going to the market unescorted.
It has become a lightning rod, for all
discussions regarding Khaps and their
Panchayats whom media increasingly define as repressive, talibani, anti women,
and instigators of and the direct cause of honour killing, by issuing
Fatwas and Farmans for the killing of
The story quickly went viral world wide,
and received huge attention from media, Politicians, and the administration and
the Police. TV shows were done debates were held,. The atmosphere was charged. The Khaps, and the
Jat community were accused in no small
measure of repression of women, honour killing etc etc. Many of these videos are online and can be
viewed at the links given below.
So much so, the Supreme Court recently (
January 13, 2013), saw fit to issue a stricture that it would illegal for Khaps
to ban women from using mobiles or go out of the house unescorted. NEW DELHI:
The Supreme Court on Monday said it was an offence to order women not to use
mobile phones or to dress in a particular manner and warned that no one can run
a parallel matrimony court to issue diktats against the law to harass young
"Imposing a dress code on women and
asking them not to use mobile phones, are such orders not socially retrograde?
But these are also against the law. How can anyone ask women not to carry a
mobile phone," a bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana P Desai asked
while hearing a PIL which sought protection of young couples marrying
inter-caste or within the same gotra from the wrath of khaps."
this matter , the accepted view is something like this:
Asara is a village in Western U.P. in the
District of Baghpat., about 70 km North of
It is composed mostly of Jats, about 2/3rd
of whom had followed Islam, their
forefathers having accept Islam. The remainder were Hindu Jats.
Apparently on or about June 13, 2012, they
held a Panchayat and passed a few resolution, the prominent being:
No women to be allowed to use
No women under the age of 40 to
be allowed out the house unescorted in the evening or to the weekly market.
Girls not to be allowed to wear
No Love Marriages to be allowed.
The resolutions do not mention the
punishment for breaking the rules, but one can extrapolate that " honour killing " would be the
punishment of first choice.
As if this was not enough, to compound the
matter, a Khap Panchayat was held on June 20, called by a Jat leader Yashpal
Malik, which also supported the Asara Panchayat resolutions.
As a topping off, in the ensuing furor
the State administration asked the local
police to investigate and take action. The local police went to try and arrest
the two leaders Mhakkam and Mohijid for questioning, The villagers reacted
badly blocked the highway, beat up the hapless police constables, and burnt
their motor cycle. The two leaders were subsequently taken into custody and then released.
In the media stories and the TV debates
that followed, the village Panchayat was described as Khap Panchayat. That in current media terminology,
is defined as being regressive, retrograde, medieval,
Talibanic , anti women rights and perpetuators of all evils against women,
specifically - Honour Killing. That
Asara was a prominently Muslim village, was also a godsend for the
TRP rating chasers. Every quasi-left
wing liberal organization jumped into the fray and made hay.
REALLY HAPPENED AT ASARA?
Skimming through the media articles over
the past seven months or so, certain
inconsistencies started to annoyingly
put up their heads.
present other views:
AbhimanySingh writing for the Sunday
Guardian on August 26, 2012, writes:
" While the orders were initially assumed
to be a reflection of the patriarchal order prevailing in the village, this
newspaper found that women of the village are equally in support of the move.
As far as jeans are concerned, she said that girls who
lived in the village did not wear them. "It is only those who study
outside and come home for holidays who wear them," she said. This
correspondent, however, saw a young girl walking around in jeans without anyone
objecting to it.
Speaking to this newspaper, Md. Israel, a
village elder and relative of a panchayat member, blamed the media for
sensationalising the issue. "You can see the girls walking around freely,
doing their household work, and going to school. Not all of them are in purdah.
The new norms have been imposed keeping in mind the situation in the village.
The media has wrongly portrayed us as Taliban," said Israel. His own daughter holds a
PhD, he said."
Sapna Madan , a Journalist writes:
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
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
Interestingly, some women from Asara village came out in open support of the
"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
"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.
Soumik Mukherjee, a Jounalsit with the
investuigatibe=ve Magazine Tehelka, writes:
television news channels reported the story of a Khap decision in Asara
village, in Uttar Pradesh's Baghpat district, banning young girls from using
mobile phones and marrying out of love. It also reported that girls in the
village were barred from going to the local market without a male escort. In
reality, the `Khap' was held by two villagers in their late 40s, Muhakkam
Pehelwan and Mujahid, and a few others.
Five days after the diktats were issued, a group of young
girls was standing at a village bus stand, talking on their mobile phones. Some
young boys passing by in a tractor took digs at each other. "Don't take out
that phone," said a 20-year-old youngster to his friend, "or you'll be thrown
out of the village." And then, they all burst out laughing. For a village that
had issued tough diktats on women, the atmosphere was surprisingly relaxed.
The puzzling difference between what was reported and what
actually took place in the village is best explained by two local journalists.
A stringer of a news channel, on the condition of anonymity, says the whole
thing was a small affair that no one in the media cared to report about. A
small gathering of villagers had met initially to sort out a family quarrel
that arose out of a love marriage between an already-married woman and her
neighbour. The couple was asked to leave the village to avoid any ugly
scenarios. It was not until a few days later, on 11 July, that it turned into a
Shockingly, the journalist says the meeting was
orchestrated at the TV crews' behest after they missed the original gathering
of villagers. "They were saying what we wanted them to say. Let them," he says.
TEHELKA couldn't verify these claims independently. But if true, it's plausible
that the Panchayat members, playing to the gallery, went overboard and issued
the set of diktats that included, inter alia, the banning of mobile phones for
women below 40. But Asara has not always been like this.
"You cannot expect this place to be as liberal as a city,
but girls are relatively free here," says Zil-E-Deen, a village elder. The
Panchayat's decision is barely reflected in the people's interactions. Some
even criticise it. "Many girls from our villages go to colleges in nearby
towns. The diktat was unwarranted," says Younus, another village elder. Afsana,
21, nods in agreement. "I don't own a mobile phone so there is no question of
flaunting one. But if people have phones, they will flaunt them. What's wrong
with that?" she asks.
Interestingly, Muhakkam Pehelwan, one of the men who called
the panchayat that imposed the bans, had contested for the post of the village
head and lost. Says Avinash Kumar Misra, Circle Officer, Baraut, that includes
Asara: "Muhakkam lost the post of the village head, so these actions are
definitely a way to gain popularity among the community."
But, the issue has now spiralled out of the village's
control. On 14 July, in a meeting called by Muhakkam and Mujahid at the village
mosque, Yashpal Malik, president of the Akhil Bharatiya Jat Sangrakshan
Sangharsh Samiti (ABJSSS), addressed a crowd. "We support the villagers'
decision of imposing the bans," he said. People cheered the declaration. Some
were even vociferous in their support, including the 20-year-old boy, who had
earlier joked about it.
The leaders were scathing of the media, for trying to harm
the reputation of the Muslim Jat community. "Whoever takes a stand against
these decisions is trying to harm the Jat culture," added Malik.
In an obvious jibe at Union Home Minister P Chidambaram's
comments condemning the bans, ABJSSS member Satpal Chowdhary remarked that no
"lungi-wearing outsider" had the right to defy measures taken to save the
"honour" of women.
The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) also supported the banishment.
Jayant Choudhary, RLD MP from Mathura
and son of RLD chief and Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, has said
that it was merely a matter of solving a family issue and the panchayat members
are right in their stand. But stage-managed by a section of the media in need
of TRP ratings, a simple family matter has been made out to be a "national"
Soumik Mukherjee is a Photo Correspondent with Tehelka.
See more at:
What these writeups show is a picture at
total variance to the one portrayed by the Media, Times of India, etc etc.
Asara is not a village in the grip of a
Taliban state. As one member of the village puts it , we are
Muslim, but our ladies do not wear Burkas. We would like our girls to take precautions when they go
A month after the so called diktat were
supposedly issued, the correspondents
found the girls of the village walking around, wearing Jeans, talking on mobiles, not wearing burkahs, doing what girls in
villages normally do.
village community got together, held a
Panchayat( I the west it is called a town hall meeting), and discussed
One of the concerns was mobiles and
youngsters( boys and girls) walking around with mobiles, with ear phones stuck
to their ears.
An accident had recently happened, and a
boy had been killed by a train, he did
not hear coming.
incident , and the village community concern for the safety of their
kids led to guidelines for the use of phones, It was obviously followed more in
abstentia, as mobiles were in many kids
The community was also concerned about eve
teasing, and molestation of girls in the market.
rural village areas are unsafe after dark. The police are far away and
unable to help. These concerns led them to suggest that women should not go out
alone unescorted at night, or to the
markets which are kilometers
away, and the way to them are is
along lonely desolated road, hardly safe for grown men, let alone vulnerable
Most parents all over the world are concerned
about their children's use of mobiles, social media, at the expense of their
studies and studies. They are concerned about letting their children wander
around in unsafe environments , e.g. in
what they perceive to be unsafe neighbourhoods, and /or after dark.
One wonders if rural parents do not and should not have such a right?
One anchor on a NDTV debate show- exhorted
the affected girls to be more ` majbooth'
or strong. One wonders how that would help the girls if an assault took place
It struck one that none of the participants
, who were so anti the alleged Panchayat
guidelines, had visited the village concerned.
The TV screen shots, were very charged-
Honour killing by Khaps, rapes, female foeticide, these were the violent imageries
projected, in what was billed as a debate of Khap issues.
The imageries , and sound effects were
designed to effect a transference of
violence and Talibani type
behaviour onto the rural communities and
their grass root movements, to equate
them, in the public eye, with honour killing, rape, and barbaric behaviour.
Interestingly this as the case of Asara, and the two journalists
who set up and stage managed the `Asara
Panchayat', is not journalism, but a fraud.
A fraud on the public and the Supreme
How will this affect the Justices view?
What is was, is something the Supreme Court
Justices, may wish to ponder over and take some corrective action.
Should the Supreme Court should order a
full inquiry and take action against the journalists and their employers.
TV videos, links below
- Part 1
NDTV Khap panchayat decission at asara baghpat bagpat
- ndtv debate on khap panchayat system and
debate on Khap Panchayat system
- PART 3 ndtv debate on Khap Panchayat
system village asara baghpat
- debate on sahra live with Ch. Yashpal
Malik ji on asara khap panchay
There are other
videos on the Youtube site, which can be looked at.