Strongly defending Khap Panchayats (caste councils), Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Saturday said they don't order "honour killings" and most such cases involve relatives of boys or girls, whose relations are opposed by their families.
The chief minister emphasised on the need to change mindset of the people who commit such crimes.
"Those behind such killings are parents or close relatives of either the girl or boy. There is a need to change the mindset of the people. Khap Panchayats don't order such killings," Hooda said while addressing a press conference here.
"Anyone who takes law into hands will be dealt with as per law," he added.
Haryana, which has a skewed sex ratio, is infamous for such cases, and during the last one month several such incidents came to light. The recent one was from Rohtak where a college going couple were allegedly killed by girl's family members. Their families were opposed to the relation between them.
When asked that 'Khap Panchayats' in Haryana are playing a notorious role, and in some cases ordering the honour killings, Hooda said, "Khap Panchayats don't kill anyone".
"The incidents of honour killings don't take place just in Haryana, but elsewhere too," he said.
Asked if the issue was discussed in yesterday's cabinet meeting, Hooda said it was not part of the agenda.
"These (honour killings) are happening everywhere, for which I said that there is a need to change the mindset... law takes its own course. Anybody who takes law in his hands commits a sin, he will be punished," Hooda said.
When a reporter asked that if he was trying to justify such killings by saying they happen everywhere, Hooda replied, "No, don't misquote me, I said nobody is allowed to take law in his own hands, whoever does will be booked. I am saying that it is a sin...but it is committed either by parents of the girl or a boy, not by the Khap."
Asked about the opposition of Khaps to the same 'Gotra' marriages, Hooda said there are "some customs prevalent in the society".
"Tell me one thing, how many of you marry within the Gotra. I am asking do you marry within your Gotra," he asked.
"There are some customs prevalent here (in Haryana) that we don't marry within the same Gotra, at some places they do. If you go to south India, at some places, people marry one's niece. Can anyone of you do this here, it is not custom here, but it is in south India and Andhra," the chief minister said when asked about the stand of his party on the issue.
However, Hooda said that Khaps don't have any legal standing. "They don't have any legal status, they have a social status."
He also dismissed as baseless the charge that he was appeasing the Khaps for seeking votes and gaining political mileage.
"I don't do politics of Khap or caste, I seek votes based on Congress' policies, that's all, but at the same time I am part of a society... Maybe, after becoming a journalist (referring to the journalist who asked the question) you consider yourself as being outside the society".
Hooda trashed media reports that he had written a letter to the President on the issue of Khaps, saying that it is just a case of media hype. "I have never written any such letter to the President, give me a copy."