Thursday, July 12, 2012

Panchayat in Asara Village of District Baghpat (Uttar Pradesh) issues Talibani diktat for women

Panchayat in Asara Village of District Baghpat (Uttar Pradesh) issues Talibani diktat for women

BAGPAT, UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA: In a country where women have served on the country's highest Constitutional posts, the fairer sex is being made to live the Taliban way in Asara village of Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh, barely 50km from the national capital New Delhi.

The Village panchayat has put a total ban on women under 40 years from visiting local markets, using cellphones and being seen in public without their head covered. Ironically, when approached by the media persons, the women residents of the village first supported the ban, but when probed further there were many voices of protest.

The Village panchayat has also issued instructions that anyone resorting to love-marriage will face a total boycott from community and those found helping them out will be dealt with similarly. The Village panchayat will also make efforts to ensure that such couples are kept outside the village. The Village panchayat is of the view that such restrictions will help ensure that young boys and girls with 'naive' minds are not driven towards "filmi love affairs" and spoil their life.

The contention of the The Village panchayat is that the use of mobiles by young boys and girls has led to a sharp increase in instances of eve-teasing and elopement in the region. "This unrestricted communication is the main cause of such objectionable union of the naive minds who take steps which brings ridicule and embarrassment to their parents and their communities," said a panchayat member refusing to identify himself on grounds that the media was raking up the issue unnecessarily. "The The Village panchayat has decided not entertain the media on the issue," he said.

About the restriction on women below 40 venturing out to the weekly markets with no male or elderly family member accompanying them, another panchayat member said: "You people are twisting the turning the things at your convenience. Our belief is that if you want to go out for some genuine reason then what is the harm in being accompanied by an elderly, be it your parents or any other family member?" he questioned.

But the 'Talibani' restrictions on women have led to some sharp reactions from women activists across the state and beyond. "This is ridiculous. Why are the restrictions on women only? Why the village panchayat doesn’t stops men from visiting the weekly market instead of women. If men are kept away, the atmosphere will be equally secure for women at the market" says Shaista Amber, president and founder of the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIWPLB).

Madhu Garg, a social activist, says that such decisions of a panchayat should be countered head on. Gang, who is president of the UP chapter of All India Democratic Women Association (AIDWA), says the government should intervene immediately and set the things right.

Baghpat superintendent of police VK Shekhar however has a slightly different point of view. He believes that action can be initiated only if the move is in contrast with the law of the land or there is a complaint from any of the local residents saying that such tenets were against their fundamental rights.

Asked about the police action initiated in the incident, Mr. VK Shekhar said he has sought a report from the local police station on the entire issue. "If the police find there is anything that is against the law of the land, we will surely initiate action," he said.

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