Panchayat cracks down on another couple

PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL Indian Express, 17th Sept.2000

LOHAR HEDI (JHAJJAR), SEPT 16: After Jondhi village panchayat's decision of ex-communicating a couple for marrying against social norms, yet another panchayat in this district has come out with a shocking judgment. On Wednesday evening, the Loharhedi village panchayat ordered that the head of an upper caste youth, Ravinder, be tonsured and he be paraded with a garland of shoes around his neck.

His fault being, he fell in love with a Dalit girl, solemnised a secret marriage and assuring her of a formal marriage after persuading his family.

Earlier, the panchayat had ordered tonsuring the head of the girl also, but withdrew its decision on the request of the girl's family. However, before the punishment could be executed, Ravinder escaped on a friend's scooter.

The girl has been sent to a relative's place and the panchayat has launched a hunt to trace Ravinder.

When contacted, Jhajjar SP Akil Mohamad told The Indian Express that the incident had not been reported. But, he added, since the matter had come to his notice, he had asked Bahadurgarm police station SHO to conduct an inquiry. The SHO had also been asked to keep a watch and provide protection to the girl and her family.

The lovers are students of Rohtak's University College. Ravinder used to take the girl to his house in the village. The villagers gheraoed his house when they learnt that the girl was staying with him.

``We have been brought here because we are Dalits,'' said Muni Devi, the girl's mother. In May this year, a backward class youth of the village fell in love with an upper caste girl. Both had eloped and the boy was arrested from Nadi district. A case of kidnapping was registered against him and the girl was married off to some other youth of her caste. Muni Devi said that this girl was not summoned by the panchayat.

Ram Mehar, president of Haryana Guru Ravidas Samaj Mahasabha has expressed concern over the incident and demanded protection for the girl's family.

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