PATNA: Police in Bihar’s southern Jamui district are probing allegations that a village panchayat convened to discuss the rape of a minor girl imposed a fine of Rs 31,000 on the victim’s father.
Members of the panchayat near Jamui town also allegedly threatened the man that if the fine was not deposited, the girl would be made to wear a garland of shoes and paraded in the village. The panchayat accused the girl of having a bad character and said her father should not have named the accused, said police sources.
According to the girl’s father, his 14-year-old daughter was raped in his house on Sunday night. “My wife was away that day. I heard the shrieks of my daughter in her room in the night and rushed there to see Rakesh, a youth from the village, committing rape on her. He tried to flee when I yelled at him, but my neighbours gathered immediately and caught him,” he said in his complaint to police.
The accused was freed by the villagers after some chiding that night and the girl’s father was asked to attend a meeting of the village panchayat the next day. But the decision of the panchayat, which met on Monday morning, left the girl’s father utterly shaken.
“Instead of deciding to punish the accused, they (panchayat members) asked me to immediately deposit a fine of Rs 31,000 to the panchayat. They refused to acknowledge that my minor daughter was raped. Due to poverty, I am yet to fix a front door in my house,” said the victim’s father.
The panchayat’s decision also left most villagers shocked and prompted the victim’s father to approach police.
“We are probing the allegations made against the panchayat members and also the allegation of rape of the minor girl. Suitable action as per law would be taken against panchayat members if the allegations are found true,” said Sanjay Kumar, a police official who is looking into the case.
In another similar case in the district, a panchayat under Jhajha police station last week asked a woman who was allegedly raped to pay a fine of Rs 11,000 and prevented her from approaching police.