It is unfortunate that women still have to fight for basic rights and dignity even in 2021. Many parts of the nation are still hit by bizarre rules and regulations stemming out of conservatism. For instance, how previously a UP panchayat banned girls from wearing jeans and skirts in Muzaffarnagar; or how a Gujarat community banned unmarried girls from using cellphones. Now, another shocking incident has come to light from Wadgaon village in Akola district, Maharashtra.
As per a report in The Indian Express, it all started when a 35-year-old woman belonging to the ‘Nath Jogi’ community got married for the second time in 2019, after divorcing her first husband after 4 years of marriage in the year 2015. The area’s panchayat was asked to take a decision on her second marriage. She was not present at the meeting, but her sister and other relatives were called when the members discussed and delivered their “verdict” on the issue.
As per their verdict, the Panchayat members decided that they would spit on banana leaves, which the woman would then have to lick as punishment. They also sought payment of Rs. 1 lakh from her. They said that she could “return” to her community in Jalgaon district after fulfilling these demands. This decision was conveyed to her through her relatives, The Hindu reports.
Shocked by the verdict, the woman approached Jalgaon’s Chopda city police station under whose jurisdiction she resided. After her complaint, an FIR was registered against 10 members of the panchayat under sections 5 and 6 of the Maharashtra Protection of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016 as per Pravin Munde, who is the Superintendent of Police, Jalgaon.
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As the incident took place in Akola, the investigation has currently been transferred to Pinjar police station. Further details are awaited.
Kudos to the brave woman who defied both the diktats and showed courage by lodging a police complaint! We pray for her well-being and safety.