BHOPAL: A caste panchayat of the Banjara community in Guna district of Madhya Pradesh ordered a man to get his seven-year-old girl married to an eight-year-old boy as punishment for killing a calf three years ago.
The man, Jagdish Banjara, had already been punished when the ‘crime’ happened three years ago. He was ordered to bathe in the Ganga at Allahabad and host a grand non-vegetarian feast for the entire community in his village of Tarpur, 225 km from Bhopal.
Also, Jagdish Banjara, his wife Geeta Bai and their daughter Phool Bai were oistracised in the village. The community elders barred them from drawing water from wells in the village.
According to Jagdish Banjara, he was driving stray cattle from of his fields three years ago, when a stone thrown by him hit a calf. A few hours later, the calf died, and the panchayat of Banjara caste elders held Jagdish guilty.
“I fulfilled all their diktats. I bathed in the Ganga, prayed in several temples and hosted a non-vegetarian feast for the Banjara people of my village. But still my family and I were ostracised for three years,” he said on Saturday.
On Friday another meeting of the caste panchayat was held in Tarpur. “Instead of putting an end to the ostracisation, the caste elders held us guilty again because people from other villages were not willing to marry into Tarpur. The panchayat then ordered us to marry our seven-year-old daughter to an eight-year-old boy from Vidisha district,” said Jagdish.
Helpless, Jagdish bowed to the diktat and started raising Rs 51,000 for the engagement. But his wife Geeta decided to fight it out, and rushed to the sub-divisional magistrate of Aron in Guna district and narrated entire incident.
“We sent a team of officials and police to the village and warned them that the marriage should not take place. We have made the caste elders sign bonds pledging not to take the law into their own hands,” said magistrate Neeraj Sharma.
This is not the first case of kangaroo courts delivering illegal verdicts in Madhya Pradesh.
January 2015: A 25-year-old tribal woman was forced to breastfeed a neighbour (with whom she had allegedly eloped) following a tribal panchayat diktat in Alirajpur district.
March 2016: A 35-year-old woman of the Pal caste hanged herself after a caste panchayat held her guilty of extra-marital relations with a Dalit man in Tikamgarh district. The panchayat had ordered the man to host a liquor and non-vegetarian party for the woman’s husband. The woman committed suicide while the party was on outside her house.
December 26, 2016: A 70-year-old man died in Chhattarpur district after he was asked by caste elders to stand on one leg as a punishment for cow’s death.