The Khera khap of Jind district in Haryana has decided not to use their caste as their surnames after a meeting held in Bhushla village on Saturday, The Times of India reported. Khap panchayats are self-instituted councils that govern clans and have considerable social power in parts of north India.
Khera khap comprises 24 villages of Uchana town in Haryana, including major ones such as Nagura, Badoda, Badhana, Karsindhu, Barsola and Mohan Garh Chapra.
“For some years now, caste has been inflaming hatred and the society seems divided,” Satbir Pahalwan, the head of Khera khap and a resident of Barsola village told The Times of India. “Therefore, we have decided that no one from these 24 villages would use caste as surname. If people want, they could use their village name instead of caste.”
Pahalwan said that when people use caste as a surname, they are judged even before they are able to prove themselves. With this decision, he said, Khera khap wanted to correct the social fabric of society.
“Our khap has already banned food served after death and decided to skip grandmother’s gotra [clan], as men are find it difficult to get married,” Pahalwan added. “We also reduced days of grief after death from 13 to 7 and banned DJs in weddings.”
Udayveer Barsola, a member of the Khera khap said, “A committee would be made to take this measure further to the people of the villages, making sure the system is completely eradicated.”
“I was a [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] pracharak [worker] till 1994 and no one knew my caste at the time,” Khattar had said. “Even today, I don’t like it when people use Khattar after my name. I am just Manohar Lal. That is enough for my identity.”
He had previously also dropped his surname as soon as he became chief minister of Haryana in 2004.