KHAP PANCHAYATS: TENTACLES OF TRADITIONAL INSTITUTION

Dr Maninder Kaur

Chairperson

Department of Anthropology

Panjab University, Chandigarh

E-mail: maninderkaur_1@yahoo.in

Those of us living in Punjab or in its vicinity or familiar with spoken colloquial Punjabi dialects would infer Khap as noise that is disconcerting. Acts for which traditional kha-a-p[1] panchayats have acquired infamy are also equally unnerving. Chroniclers of Khap panchayats trace the origin of the word to saka language word Khatrap that refers to an area inhabited by a particular clan. There is no evidence to suggest as to when and how the word came into popular usage and when Khaps came to be associated with its current form of being a local level political or administrative unit. Any reference to its formal use dates to 1890-91 in the census report of Jodhpur. There is hardly any other reliable account about its historical antecedents.