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Izzatnagari ki Asabhya Betiyan

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Izzatnagari ki Asabhya Betiyan (The Immoral Daughters in the Land of Honour), is a 93-minute long documentary directed by FTII graduate, Nakul Singh Sawhney.

The title of the film comes from a remark made by one Jai Singh Ahlawat of the Ahlawat Khap. "Those who threaten our traditional code are the educated youngsters, the Harijan officers who want everything to be equal. And our asabhya betiyan (immoral daughters) who want to live like animals and want our traditions to be quashed so that there are no restrictions on them," Ahlawat says in the film.

While vehemently denying that khap panchayats have any role to play in honour killings, voices like those of khap ideologue, Chander Singh Dalal clearly explain how khaps perceive these issues. "Marry a Muslim if you must,marry a Christian,marry an old man,or a cripple of lame or even outside the village. But don’t marry in the same village and the same gotra," he says in the film.

Of the five real-life protagonists, the tales of two, Seema and Gaurav Saini probably come closest to explaining the kind of events and incidents related to khaps and honour killings that have rocked Haryana over the past few years. Then there is the story of Gaurav Saini who came across Monica Dagar in a chat room and ended up marrying her against her family’s wishes in 2009. Having lived together for a few days, the couple were separated following Gaurav’s arrest by the police. Then there is Mukesh from Rohtak,who left her home because she wanted to assert her choices. She thinks she is lucky to be alive because she eventually did not marry the 'out of caste' person she was once thinking of marrying. For Geetika, originally from Haryana,doing street plays on honour crimes is a way to question the beliefs on the subject. For Anjali, her MPhil thesis on honour crimes is her answer to the voice of tradition.

"The idea was to understand the issue. It is just not about same gotra marriages. What these khaps are opposing is the fact that women are expressing their desire to live with people of their choice. Also, the resistance to the caste system that is coming from women, Dalits,poor and landless is also leading to this violent backlash. Honour is just a facade," says Nakul Sawhney, the director.

The documentary also shows the displeasure of khap representatives over the 2010 film Om Puri starrer 'Khap' that dealt with the subject of honour killings. The film, which generated a lot of heat in the run-up to its release, was finally not allowed to be screened in Haryana. A group of khap representatives,called for a special screening of that film, are shown trashing the film in this documentary. 

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