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Cut the khap
Dressed in jeans? Feasting on chowmein? A Twitter parody of a disapproving khap panchayat is ready with a rap on the knuckle that makes you chuckle.
It keeps a stern watch on flirty tweets. It frowns upon unaccompanied women sharing instagrammed pictures. And god help you if the pictures are of them wolfing down chowmein. It's the khap panchayat parody account on Twitter and it can judge your character using 140 or less.
The spoof account - @KhapPanchayat - has over 4, 000 followers hanging on to every sardonic tweet. The display picture shows a sketch of men with a menacing look on their faces, and lathis in their hands. The ominous description reads - "Making the world a better place, one missing couple at a time. Go against us and we'll fatwa your behinds".
The brain behind the account is Tushar Sharma - a 21-year-old from Haryana. When not reinforcing social codes online, he is writing code in a Jaipur college where he is an information technology student.
The tweets offer tongue-in-cheek comments on honour killings, patriarchy and caste politics. Often funny, with a markedly young, urban tone (" You can take Haryana out of a Haryanvi. But you can't take a Haryanvi out of Haryana because we've blocked all roads to demand reservation" ), the tweets also occasionally foray into dark humour (" A village girl spoke for women's rights by disrupting a khap meeting. Man, she was on fire. The next day" ). And then of course, there is always the absurd (" Okay, we get it. Mary had a little lamb. But why was she unmarried and going to school?").
Sharma decided to take on this alter ego when he first watched an episode of the Aamir Khan show Satyameva Jayate which tackled honour killings. "I actually remember the exact day when it happened. I had a test next day and I had to choose between preparation and making a Twitter account. So, I took the wise decision and switched on my laptop, " says Sharma, who has never actually met a member of a khap panchayat. He attracted hundreds of followers instantly, but knew it was a big deal when his follower count exceeded his pocket money. "It was a khap-approved egg less-cakewalk from then on, " says Sharma, who has Gul Panag among his many followers. Sharma has so far declined all requests from his friends asking him to Direct Message the actor for her phone number.
Honour killings and khap panchayats used to infuriate Sharma even when he was in school. "My dislike for the khaps developed when I was in school and read at least 3-4 news reports a week about them and their diktats in the newspaper. I always wished I could do something about it, " says Sharma, who is very single and hopes that "subtle hints" about the fact are widely publicised.
Sarcasm isn't everyone's cup of sweet milky tea with floating malai. After all, if everyone from the Prime Minister's Office to the local kirana store has a Twitter presence, it is only plausible that the khaps should too. "There have been certain instances when I've woken up to mentions like 'shame on you', 'you people should die' and certain others that use more colourful language, all from people who mistook the account for an actual mouthpiece, " says Sharma.
While the khap panchayats may not have discovered Twitter yet, khap apologists certainly have. The conversations thereon are difficult to take to a coherent conclusion, especially when maintaining a spoofy tone. "I have had a few encounters with people who don't approve of what I tweet. They say that I misrepresent the khaps, blame them for stuff they don't actually do and that khaps aren't that evil after all. I do agree that khaps do good. One in Jind just "banned" female foeticide. But it also imposed an illegal fine on the offenders. But khaps do more bad than good and making fun of an institution that bans mobiles and jeans for women in this day and age isn't wrong, " says Sharma.
There isn't any panchayat sitting on his case yet.
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