Chautala favours khap view on early marriages

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Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader and former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala on Wednesday backed the view that the marriageable age for girl be lowered to prevent the rising number of rapes in the state.

"I am with the khaps on this issue. This will protect women," Chautala told journalists as he came out of the Haryana Raj Bhavan here after submitting a memorandum Governor Jagannath Pahadia against the increasing instances of rapes in the state.

In the memorandum, Chautala urged the governor to call a special session of the Haryana assembly to discuss the rising crime in the state against women.

Khap panchayat (community council) leader Sube Singh had said earlier this week that the lowering of marriageable age, which is 18 years for girls at present as per law, would help in preventing incidents like rape.

Justifying his stand, Chautala said even in the Mughal era people would marry off their daughters early to save them from atrocities of the Mughals. At least 15 cases of rape have been reported across Haryana in the past 31 days.

To assuage resentment among people, Congress president Sonia Gandhi flew to Sachhakhera village near Narwana town in Jind district of Haryana Tuesday to meet the family of a minor, Dalit girl who was gang-raped Saturday. The victim later set herself on fire and died.

Reacting to the khap leaders' demand to lower marriageable age for girls, Gandhi said the judiciary will decide on law and no one else.

Just a day after Gandhi's visit, another gang-rape was reported Wednesday in Kalayat area of Kaithal district, 140 km from here.

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