Shinde pulls up Khap Panchayat for advocating early marriage of girls

     Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Wednesday rejected a Haryana Khap Panchayat's decision that marriageable age for girls should be reduced, saying one should abide by the law. "We will have to abide by the Indian law," he said. Shinde also promised to take strict measures against unfortunate incidents of rape being reported from Haryana.

"It is extremely unfortunate that such incidents are taking place with Dalits. We will be taking strict measures. Our personnel have talked to the Director General and I myself will talk to the Chief Minister," he added. The Home Minister, however, pointed out that under the present relationship, the Centre could not take steps to correct the situation.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi had earlier yesterday rejected the Haryana Khap Panchayat's suggestion. "The country has a democratic system and an independent judiciary and the law is in the hands of judiciary and nobody else," she told mediapersons in Haryana's Jind District yesterday, where she met the family of a Dalit teenaged girl, who immolated herself after being allegedly gang-raped on Saturday.

The Congress Government in Haryana-led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda has drawn flak from all quarters for its alleged failure to prevent incidents of crime against Dalits and women. 14 rape cases have been reported from the Congress-ruled state in the last one month.

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