The Odisha government may have incentivised inter-caste marriages under the Sumangal scheme to curb social prejudice and encourage integration. But 27-year-old Maheswar Baske, a tribal youth from the Keonjhar district, has a different tale to tell.
A kangaroo court imposed a fine of Rs 25 lakh on the Santhal youth for marrying outside the tribe.
The incident was reported from Nialijharan village in the Ghasipura police station area. According to reports, Maheswar had recently married a girl from Nagadihi village. The couple were staying elsewhere after their marriage but returned to Maheswar’s ancestral village of Nialijharan on July 27. However, village elders objected to the inter-tribe marriage and convened a kangaroo court. It imposed a hefty fine on the couple and threatened them with social ostracism if they didn’t pay it.
The couple pleaded that they were both tribals and had married with mutual consent but to no avail. Maheswar, who is a daily wage earner, couldn’t arrange the money for the fine. He and his wife fled the village and are now taking shelter at the house of a relative at another place. Meanwhile, Ghasipura police said they have not received a formal complaint, but sent a team to Maheswar’s village for investigation.