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Khap is an organization representing a clan or a group of related clans in northern India. Khaps are found mainly among the Jats of Western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, although historically the term has been used among other communities as well. A khap panchayat is an assembly of Khap elders. A Sarv Khap (literally all Khaps) meeting involves an assembly of many Khaps.
A khap is a community organization unaffiliated with the formally elected government bodies. A Khap Panchayat is concerned with the affairs of the Khap it represents. It is not affiliated with the democratically elected local assemblies that are also termed Panchayat. A khap panchayat has no official government recognition or authority, but can exert significant social influence within the community they represent. Baliyan Khap, famous by the panchayats lead late farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait, is among the most influential Khaps.
The Khaps evolved as tribal and village administrations. The Sarv Khap (or All Khap) Panchayat (Council) represented all the Khaps. The individual Khaps would elect leaders who would send delegates to represent their Khaps at the Sarv Khap. It was a political organization, composed of all the clans, communities, and castes in the region.
One of the terms used to denote the republic was the 'Khap'. Others were Pal, Janapada, and Ganasangha etc. The Khap consisted a unit of 84 villages. The individual villages were governed by an elected Council, which was known as the Panchayat. A unit of seven villages was called a Thamba and 12 Thambas would form the unit of 84 villages, though Khaps of 12 and 24 villages existed. Their elected leaders would determine which units would be represented at the Khap level. These Khaps are found to be spread all the way from Northwest India down to Madhya Pradesh, Malwa, Rajasthan, Sindh, Multan, Punjab, Haryana, and modern Uttar Pradesh.
Sarv Khap of Haryana
The region from Western Uttar Pradesh through Agra, Mathura, to the Sutlej River in the Punjab was known as Haryana, dominated by Jats. The influence of the Sarv Khap extended to the Malwa province in Central India, Rajasthan and Sindh. Its boundaries also varied widely throughout history.
Decisions on Social Issues
The Khap panchayts frequently deliberate on social issues to attempt to combat social problems like female abortions, alcohol abuse, dowry, rape  and to promote education. specially among girls
A recent 2015 Sarva Khap meeting launched a movement "Save daughters, educate daughter" movement.
In recent times, the Khap system has attracted criticism from groups, citing the stark prejudice that such groups allegedly hold against others. Women's Organisation AIDWA has reported cases where the Khaps are alleged to have initiated threats of murder and violence to couples who marry outside of the circle.
The Supreme Court has declared 'Khap panchayats' illegal, which often decree or encourage honour killings or other institutionalised atrocities against boys and girls of different castes and religions who wish to get married or have married.
This is wholly illegal and has to be ruthlessly stamped out. There is nothing honourable in honour killing or other atrocities and, in fact, it is nothing but barbaric and shameful murder. Other atrocities in respect of the personal lives of people committed by brutal, feudal-minded persons deserve harsh punishment. Only this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism and feudal mentality. Moreover, these acts take the law into their own hands, and amount to kangaroo courts, which are wholly illegal.— Bench of Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra.
In his report to the Supreme Court Raju Ramachandaran, Senior Advocate appointed by the Court to assist it in PILs against Khap Panchayats has called for arrest of "self styled" decision makers and proactive action by the police to protect the fundamental rights of the people. It also asked for the recommendations being converted as directions to all States and the Union, till a law is enacted by the Parliament.
- क्या है खाप पंचायत, क्यों है उसका दबदबा?, Atul Sagar, BBC 5 August 2009
- Identifying The Centripetal And Centrifugal Forces Through Khap Panchayats In Haryana-An Analysis Satpal Singh, Dalbir Singh, IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science (IOSR-JHSS) Volume 16, Issue 4 (Sep. - Oct. 2013), PP 109-116
- Haryana’s biggest khap panchayat scripts history, allows inter-caste marriages, Manveer Saini,TNN | Apr 21, 2014,
- The Jats of Northern India Their Traditional Political System—II, M C Pradhan, Economic and Political Weekly, December 18, 1965
- खाप पंचायतों का हृदय परिवर्तन! अंजलि सिन्हा, Sahara Samay, 26 Apr 2014
- Kaur, Ravinder (2010-06-05). "Khap panchayats, sex ratio and female agency | Ravinder Kaur". Academia.edu. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
- Muzaffarnagar riots: A Jat family protected 70 Muslims in Fugna village, India Today, September 14, 2013
- Dr. Bal Kishan Dabas, The Political and Social History of the Jats, 2001 Sanjay Prakashan, New Delhi, ISBN 81-7453-045-2 Meeting held under the chairmanship of Sant Shanta Nand, the account recorded by Ramdas, the Recorder (Bhat) of the Panchayat Source: Shoram collection, Pothi No.1, P.7, quoted in note 33, of The Political and Social History of the Jats, Dr. Bal Kishan Dabas
- सगोत्र विवाह मान्य नहीं : टिकैत November 13, 2010, OneIndia
- भ्रूणहत्या के खिलाफ की आवाज बुलंद, Jagran, 7 Jan 2015
- गठवाला खाप भ्रूणहत्या और रेप के आरोपियों को करेगी दंडित, Bhaskar News, Feb 20, 2013
- Khap Panchayats Root for Educated Leaders, Harpreet Bajwa, New Indian Express,16th Aug 2015
- Haryana khaps launch campaign for girls' education Sukhbir Siwach,TNN, Jun 13, 2014
- Manvir Saini (11 April 2014). "Haryana's Biggest Khap Creates history". The Times of India.
- खाप पंचायत का ऐतिहासिक फैसला, अंतर्जातीय शादी को दी हरी झंडी, Zee News, April 21, 2014
- बेटी बचाओ, बेटी पढ़ाओ मुद्दे पर सर्वखाप महापंचायत, May - 17 - 2015
- T.K. Rajalakshmi. "Caste terror". frontline Volume 21 - Issue 25, Dec. 04 - 17, 2004.
- Rohit Mullick & Neelam Raaj (9 September 2007). "Panchayats turn into kangaroo courts". The Times of India.
- Venkatesan, J. (20 April 2011). "Stamp out khap panchayats: court". The Hindu (Chennai, India).
- J. Venkatesan (20 April 2011). "Stamp out khap panchayats: court". The Hindu - Issue New Delhi, April 20, 2011 (Chennai, India).
- "Rein in khaps, prevent honour killings: SC panel". 17 July 2012.
- Official website (in Hindi)