A 35-year-old woman, who married for a second time post-divorce, was ordered by a ‘caste panchayat’ of her community to lick spit as punishment in Maharashtra’s Akola district, an official said on Friday. The caste panchayat also ordered the woman to pay Rs 1 lakh to it for her act, he said.
Showing courage, the woman defied both the diktats and lodged a police complaint. The shocking incident took place last month, but came to light when a case was registered against the unofficial village council, he said.
On a complaint of the victim, who stays in Jalgaon district, an FIR under sections 5 and 6 of the Maharashtra Protection of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016, has been registered against ten members of the caste panchayat, the official said. The FIR was registered on Thursday evening at Jalgaon’s Chopda city police station, under whose jurisdiction the woman resides, and later the case was transferred for investigation to the Pinjar police station in Akola where the incident took place, he said.
According to the complaint, the incident took place on April 9 at Wadgaon village in Akola, where the caste panchayat was called to take a decision on the second marriage of the victim, he said. The victim belongs to the ‘Nath Jogi’ community, whose caste panchayat did not accept her second marriage, the official said.
The victim got married for the second time in 2019 after taking divorce from her first husband in 2015, the official said. Her first marriage took place in 2011, he said.
At the caste panchayat meeting, members discussed the woman’s second marriage and called her sister and other relatives, and delivered their “verdict" on the issue (the victim was not present at the meet), the official said. According to the verdict, members of the caste panchayat were to spit on banana leaves and the victim was to lick it as a punishment, the official said.
Besides, the caste panchayat sought a payment of Rs 1 lakh from the victim, he said. After fulfilling these demands by the panchayat, the victim was told she can “return" to her community, the official said, quoting from the complaint.
The decision of the caste panchayat was conveyed to the victim by her relatives. Shocked by the decision, the victim approached the Chopda city police station and lodged the complaint against members of the panchayat, said Pravin Munde, Superintendent of Police, Jalgaon.
As the incident took place in Akola, the case has been transferred there for further investigation, he said.