Inter-caste marriage activist in poll fray

A woman activist, who has helped around 200 couples in solemnizing their marriages, mostly inter-caste marriage, is trying her luck in Haryana assembly elections 2014. Shakuntala Jakhar is the CPI (M) candidate from Nalwa constituency in Hisar district.

Shakuntala, 47, who has even faced life threats in a state infamous for honour killings, is like a helpline for young couples who going for inter-caste marriage. She not only helps such couples get married by helping them with legal papers and logistics, but also ensures their safety at times when their own families become their enemies.
She filed her nomination on September 23 and is now busy with campaign. “My opponents accuse me of misguiding the lovers. They don’t even want that we raise the issues concerning women’s rights. “When we don’t hesitate in bringing brides from other states due to skewed gender ratio, without asking for their caste, then why are there so many obstacles in local inter-caste marriages,” she asked the audience at one of her roadside rallies. However, the poll battle won’t be an easy task for this activist. The Left has limited influence in Haryana where caste is still the biggest influence when it comes to voting.

Shakuntla, who has limited resources compared with her opponents, is being supported by fellow activists from across the state. “Whenever any defiant couple meets us, we just refer the case to Shakuntala,” said Vikram Mittal, a Hisar-based advocate who is helping her with the campaign. The path to help lovers has not been a tough one for Shakuntala. In 2010, she received death threat in a case where a dalit boy wanted to marry a Jat Sikh girl despite opposition from her parents. When Shakuntla reached the local court in Hisar to help the young couple, she was attacked by the girl’s family. Braving the odds, she not still facilitated the marriage.

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