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Tribal women in Himachal entitled to ancestral property: High Court

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 Shimla: Setting aside almost a century old customary law that  allows only men to inherit ancestral property if it is not  bequeathed, the Himachal Pradesh High Court in a historic  judgment observed that tribal women, too, could inherit property.

“The daughters in the tribal areas of Himachal Pradesh shall  inherit property in accordance with the Hindu Succession Act of  1956 and not as per customs. This is in order to prevent women  from facing social injustice and all forms of exploitation,” Justice  Rajiv Sharma said in a judgment provided to the media on Friday.

He said the laws must evolve with the times if societies are to progress.

“It is made clear by way of abundant precaution that the observations made here only pertain to right to inherit the property by daughters under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, and not any other privileges enjoyed by the tribals in the tribal areas,” he said in a 60-page order.

The law, “Wajib Ul Urj”, which came into force in the state’s tribal district of Kinnaur in 1926, permits only men to inherit ancestral property, if it is not bequeathed.

It is also applicable in Lahaul and Spiti districts and some remote areas of Chamba district.

The patriarchal law even bars widows from inheriting their husbands’ property, which under the customary law is transferred to the sons.

Justice Sharma upheld an order passed by the district judge of Chamba in 2002 to grant legal property rights to women.

“The tribal belts have modernized with the passage of time. They profess Hindu rites and customs. They do not follow different gods. Their culture may be different but customs must conform to the constitutional philosophy,” the judge added.

“It is really a victory over social evil,” 61-year-old social activist Rattan Manjari, chairperson of the Mahila Kalyan Parishad, a women’s rights group, told IANS over phone.

Manjari said that the condition of deserted women, widows and spinsters in the district was deplorable due the customary law.

“Now the inheritance right would enable these women in tribal areas to live with dignity,” she added.

Manjari’s mother bequeathed to her the family’s entire agricultural land though she had a brother.

“The women commanded much respect in tribal society, especially with the polyandry system in vogue until a few decades ago, and never felt the need of the right to inherit property.”

“With times changing, however, there were many cases when women, after the death of husband or parents, were abandoned by the family members, forcing them to do petty jobs (for survival),” she said. (IANS)

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Concerned Over The Rise of Drug Usage In The State: Himachal Governor

A three-day horse trade-cum-exhibition was organised before the beginning of the Lavi Fair.

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There are countless mothers who have been constantly tormented by drug-dependent adolescent children. Pixabay

Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Devvrat on Sunday expressed concern over the rise in drug addiction, particularly among the youth in the state, and called for concerted efforts to tackle the menace.

“Effective steps have been taken by the government and police administration, but we all need to work together in this direction,” he said at the inauguration of the centuries-old Lavi Fair in Rampur town, which was once a centre of barter trade with Tibet.

He called upon the people to promote natural farming. The state government has made a provision of Rs 25 crore to promote natural or organic farming to produce chemical-free food.

The 400-year-old Lavi Fair has undergone a sea change with the rural folk’s changing lifestyles and aspirations, resulting in a greater sale of gadgets and automobiles than traditional items such as farm implements, livestock and dry fruits.

Himachal
‘The traders from across the border have stopped coming’ Pixabay

The fair dates back to the time when Raja Kehari Singh of Rampur Bushahr state signed a treaty to promote trade with Tibet.

Rampur, 120 kilometres from state capital Shimla, was once a major trade centre as it is located on the old silk route connecting Afghanistan, Tibet and Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.

“People have stopped buying farm implements, horses and sheep. Now, they prefer to shop luxury goods like television sets and automobiles,” trader Ishwar Goyal told IANS.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur will preside over the concluding session of the fair on November 14.

Another trader Deepak Negi said Rampur was a centre of trade before the 1962 India-China war.

The traders from Tibet used to bring raw wool, butter, herbs and leather products and bartered them for wheat, rice, farm implements and livestock.

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Rampur, 120 kilometres from state capital Shimla, was once a major trade centre as it is located on the old silk route connecting Afghanistan. Pixabay

“Now, the traders from across the border have stopped coming. Indian multinational companies come here to sell their products. The fair has largely lost its relevance,” he added.

A three-day horse trade-cum-exhibition was organised before the beginning of the Lavi Fair. The main attraction during the exhibition were the Chamurthi horses – an endangered species known as the ‘Ship Of the Cold Desert’. Being a surefooted animal, it is mainly used for transporting goods in the Himalayas.

Also Read: Quitting Junk Food May Cause You to Suffer Withdrawal Symptoms Similar to Drug Addition

The Chamurthi horse traces its origin to the Tibet region. In India, it’s bred in the villages of Himachal Pradesh bordering China.

The fair sees several folk artistes from Punjab and Himachal Pradesh perform. (IANS)