A village in Uttar Pradesh has forbidden women from using cell phones in public in an attempt to refrain them from contacting men. The village elders of Madora on Tuesday made the rule that women found using mobile phones outside their homes would be fined Rs. 21,000. Considering the economic status of the village, it would take one person several months to pay off the fine.
The local police said that they have received reports regarding the Khap Panchayat’s order. “We have received reports about the Khap ordering the ban on women using mobile phones,” said, local police chief Arun Kumar Singh. “Such orders are against the Constitution and we will take action,” he added.
According to the Khap Panchayat, usage of mobile phones are encouraging unmarried women to elope. This is the primary reason why the ban is necessitated, to limit their interaction with men. Additionally, it has also imposed fines on people caught slaughtering cows — illegal in most States — or smuggling liquor.
“We do support their measures against illegal activities but won’t allow them to curb the freedom of women,” Mr. Singh said.
Notably, Khap Panchayats are informal village councils. Khap panchayats are mostly run by male village elders. Although illegal, they have considerable influence in rural North India. Khap Panchayat has also resisted modernisation of women earlier. Notably, they have been blamed for ordering serious crimes, including the so-called “honour killing” of couples who marry outside their caste or religion.