Muzaffarnagar: On a day they were meant to come out with ways to unite, disagreements were out in the open. Leaders from 40 khaps or informal village courts across different states including Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi had gathered at Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh to form a single platform for these panchayats, and they defend themselves saying it is an image problem.
"We are just being portrayed like this by the media, we are against dishonour killings. But yes, same gotra marriages should be stopped," said Umesh Malik, spokesperson of Swaroop Khap Samiti.
Khaps have come under scrutiny after North India saw several cases of caste killings, some allegedly advocated by these local leaders to condemn same gotra or same clan marriages. Clearly, the khaps are under pressure to reinvent themselves.
Youngsters like Gagan Pawar, a law student from Delhi, believe they have the answer.
"I would love to be a member of khap but I am never going to advocate killing someone. I would instead explain the problems of same gotra marriage patiently to people," said Gagan.
But there is a long way to go. Even after six such meetings over the past one year, there has been no consensus, and given the enormity of the challenge, now the Prime Minister has taken personal interest in the issue, asking states to come up with ways to deal with the problem.