A Dalit couple was fined and denied entry into the temple by a Khap panchayat for their inter-sect marriage in Tamil Nadu’s Thirupathur.
Kanagaraj (26) and Jayapriya (23) belong to the Muracha Parayar and Thamana Paraya sects respectively. Both sects fall under the Scheduled Caste community. The duo had eloped Pullur village after Jayapriya's parents opposed their relationship and tied the knots in January 2018 in Chennai.
A driver by profession, Kanagaraj lost his job in Chennai during the Covid-19 lockdown and returned to Pullur with his wife. The Khap had already imposed a fine of Rs 2.5 lakh to be paid on the couple if they ever returned to the village.
“Paying fines for marrying outside caste is common in our village. Usually the amount is about Rs 5,000-10,000. However, for us it’s 2.5 lakhs. I was ready to pay Rs 25, 000, but they didn’t take it. Now, I refuse to pay any fine. But the Khap heads keep insisting on it. When I wanted to attend the village festival my wife and I were denied entry into temple. The khap panchayat was held twice since we returned and the heads insisted that we pay the fine,” said Kanagaraj.
A complaint was filed by Kanagaraj at Thimampettai police station. "Ellappan and Nagesh, the heads of the khap panchayat, agreed to withdraw the fine during the enquiry. However, they are still insistent that we pay them,” he said.
Denying the accusations, Ellappan said, “No fine was ever imposed any fine. There were quarrels between the two families since they had married without their parents' consent. A fine of Rs 500 or so was to be paid by them for causing disruption in the village. I know people here are poor. How will the panchayat impose such a fine?"
Meanwhile, during a temple function that was held last week, Kanagaraj's father-in-law was allegedly attacked by Ellappan and his men. Kanagaraj had filed a complaint with the local police station and an FIR has been registered. Ellappan, too, had filed complaints against Kanagaraj and his family members. An FIR has been registered on them as well.
The Superintendent of Police of Thirupathur district, Vijayakumar, said there is no pending complaint with the police about the imposition of fine and said there was no transaction of money between the two groups. "There are complaints from both the groups about the subsequent quarrel during a temple rally. We have filed FIRs on both sides. Two months back we remanded two people in a nearby village where similar fines were imposed. Therefore, if there is a complaint we will take due action on it"
(With inputs from Saradha V)