Amid outrage over a string of rape cases in Haryana, Khap panchyats in the state have come out with a bizarre suggestion that the marriageable age limit should be done away with claiming it will check such crimes while the ruling Congress saw a "conspiracy" in the incidents.
Concerned over teenaged girls being targeted, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) today stepped in seeking explanation from the state government in each case, including action taken against culprits.
"Boys and girls should be married by the time they turn 16 year old, so that they do not stray... this will decrease the incidents of rape," Sube Singh, a Khap representative, said.
Another Khap member said, "As soon as the children attain puberty, it is natural for them to have sexual desires but when these are not fulfilled, they stray... so there should not be any minimum age limit for marriage."
The comments from members of the influential caste councils came a day after a teenaged Dalit girl immolated herself after being raped in Narwana area in Jind district, the 12th incident of rape in Haryana within a month.
Four persons, including a woman, have been arrested in connection with the incidents. The main accused Pradeep and Naveen were arrested on Sunday morning.
Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the culprits will not be spared and Education Minister Geeta Bhukkal asked social organisations and Khap panchayats to come forward to give a befitting reply to those who commit atrocities against women.
Lashing out at the Hooda government, Haryana's main opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) claimed the incidents reflected its failure on the law and order front.
Dismissing the charge, state Congress president Phool Chand Mullana claimed that it was a conspiracy to malign the government
"Such incidents happened earlier also, we condemn them ...but no accused has been protected and all the culprits have been extended... I can say that this could be a conspiracy against the state government," he said.