JAIPUR: A Khap Panchayat has imposed a total boycott on three families in a village in Rajasthan's Jodhpur district for raising voice against wildlife hunting. As some people did not like their stand, a Khap Panchayat was called in the village and the panchayat issued a diktat for 'hukka pani band' (implying no social or economic transactions) for these families nearly three weeks ago.
As a result of the Khap’s decision in Bala village of Bilara subdivision of Jodhpur, the families of Papparam, Chhotu Singh and Suresh Kumar have been virtually imprisoned in their homes since June 5. Nobody in the village is providing them with even basic rations or milk. Also, the affected three families now have no means to earn a living.
Among the victims, Suresh belongs to a family of Vishnois who is known for their love of the environment and wildlife and especially for saving deer found in large numbers in west Rajasthan. In their village, many farmers have put barbed wires in their fields to protect crops from wildlife. As a result, many deer injure themselves and even get killed as they get trapped in these wires. Sometimes dogs and other hunters also chase them.
Since such incidents were increasing constantly, a complaint was filed with the Forest Department. In this case, the forest department made Suresh a government witness. This is reportedly the chief reason that angered the villagers and led to the Khap’s decision to ostracise the victims. A meeting of the Khap Panchayat was held on June 5, Environment Day. About 50 people, including Sarpanch Nathuram, gathered and issued a decree to excommunicate the families of Papparam, Chhotu Singh and of course, Suresh Kumar.
After the decree of the Khap Panchayat, villagers have stopped all interaction with the victim families. As soon as the decree was issued, people distanced themselves from the three families. Even traders of pulses, fertilizer seeds, agricultural equipment, etc. refused to provide them any goods.
If anyone protested against the decision, the Khap also threatened action against them. Due to this, the shopkeepers of the village are not giving even ration and water to the three families. For the past three weeks, the victims have faced total contempt from people in their village.
“The barbed wires were being used as a means to hunt and kill wildlife and even dogs. We are being punished simply because I raised my voice against cruelty to wildlife and became a government witness in this case,” Suresh Kumar remarked.
On the basis of a complaint filed by key victim Suresh Kumar, the police have finally registered a case. According to Achal Dan, the SHO, “a case has been registered at Bilara police station regarding Khap Panchayat and our investigation is going on. About 50 people including Sarpanch Nathuram have been named in this case about calling a village panchayat and socially boycotting the family of the complainant Suresh Vishnoi . The investigation is on and action would be taken against anyone who is found guilty. "
Moved by the plight of the victims, a prominent Jain saint, Shraman Dr Pushpendra has now shot off a letter to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on this whole issue. In the letter, the saint has asked for rescinding the decree of the Khap Panchayat and has asserted that “I’ve never seen worse results for anyone trying to stop violence against wildlife as in this case. As such, the state government should take the strictest measures against the culprits and rescue the victims as soon as possible so that in future no one will dare to issue such absurd diktats as the Khap Panchayat.”