Marriage between a boy and girl of same clan was annulled by a Panchayat held at Bhiwani, Haryana, on Sunday. Former Haryana Chief Minister Hukam Singh was also present at the gathering.

Although, the former Chief Minister wasn’t a part of the decision-making body, but he was in full agreement with the judgement. He said, “We can't allow this, they (the couple) have to break it(the marriage) or face action. This can never be allowed; this is our law.”

The couple has been instructed to annul their marriage within a week. The Panchayat has barred the couple from selling their land and has threatened to take over their property in case decide to leave the village.

While the newly weds, fearing for their lives, have fled to Rajasthan their family back home is ostracised.

“What can we do? We are not safe here. Panchayat is against us and the entire village,” said Randhir Singh, father of the Sribhagwan- the groom.

Caste-based Panchayats of rural Haryana are known for their unfair decisions but the recent verdict stands apart as a former Chief Minister of Haryana attended the ‘khap’ Panchayat, showing the dominance of this illegal system of justice where diktats are pronounced and couples marrying out of their castes are separated forcibly.

Former chief minister Hukam Singh, who was in power in Haryana in the early 90s, walked in during the ‘khap’ in Phogat Barah, a conglomerate of 19 village dominated by people of the Phogat ‘gotra.' He expressed his solidarity with the khap's diktat against Shribhagwan Legha and Anita of Samaspur village of Bhiwani district.

“The relationship will not be approved under any circumstances. We are hopeful that the couple will realise their mistake and snap their ties. The boy's father Randhir Singh has been asked to accompany two khap delegates to Jaipur to get the couple back,” Hukam Singh said.