'Haryana's pride' marries ignoring khap diktat

Neelam Sharma, the first IFS officer from the state, tied the knot with IAS officer Kuldeep Yadav, who is from a different caste

The girl who made Haryana proud had to finally run away from her village to marry. Amid high security Neelam Sharma - the only Haryana woman IFS officer - from Patharwali village in Bhiwani, married her batch mate Kuldeep Arya, an IAS officer, at a farmhouse in Chattarpur area of south Delhi on Tuesday night.

High security arrangements were made at the wedding venue after villagers from the bride's side threatened of dire consequences if this wedding happened. A close relative from the bride's family revealed to MiD DAY that a private security force was hired to stop any untoward incident. "Around 10-15 gunman were deployed at the venue in plainclothes. Special instructions were given to them so that the proceedings of the marriage didn't get disturbed," he said.

A similar number of policemen were deployed at the venue. A senior police official present at the scene said, "Since this case was in the limelight for long, both the families had sought police protection from us. Considering earlier Khap cases, we didn't want to take any chances."

Knotty affairs
Speaking to MiD DAY, the groom's father said that he was extremely happy with the match. "We are not afraid and are extremely happy with this marriage. We need to put an end to the caste system and my son has set an example by marrying a girl from another caste. We are even ready to face the villagers at our hometown."

An emergency panchayat meeting was held on Sunday, seeking to influence Neelam's family's decision. The panchayat says it will not encourage any violence, but hinted that such a union could ostracise Neelam's family. The matter of Neelam's wedding also reached Harayana's chief minister Bhupinder Hooda who assured the couple full security.

Police were also deployed at Pathrawali village after some members of the Brahmin community objected to the inter-caste wedding. Kuldeep Arya is a Gujarat cadre IAS officer, who belongs to the Ahir community, while Neelam Sharma is posted in Moscow and is a Brahmin.

Where's the honour?
The Supreme Court has declared illegal 'khap panchayats' which often decree or encourage honour killings or other institutionalised atrocities against boys and girls of different castes and religions who wish to get married or have married. "This is wholly illegal and has to be ruthlessly stamped out. There is nothing honourable in honour killing or other atrocities and, in fact, it is nothing but barbaric and shameful murder. Other atrocities in respect of the personal lives of people committed by brutal, feudal-minded persons deserve harsh punishment. Only this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism and feudal mentality. Moreover, these acts take the law into their own hands, and amount to kangaroo courts, which are wholly illegal," said a Bench of Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra.

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