MP rape survivor's family ostracised by village after failing to host feast ordered by panchayat

Rajgarh, Madhya Pradesh: A Madhya Pradesh village has ostracised the family of a rape survivor after they failed to perform a "public penance"and because the accused is from a "lower cast".

The panchayat deemed that for 'cleansing' or shuddhi-karan, the family of the survivor needs to organise a bhandara (feast) and serve non-vegetarian food to the village heads (panchs). The family could not afford to comply and were subsequently cut off by the village.

 MP rape survivors family ostracised by village after failing to host feast ordered by panchayat

Representational image. Reuters

Rajgarh Superintendant of Police Pradeep Sharma confirmed that a rape case was filed against the accused under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code. He said a team would be formed to investigate the family's allegation of boycott since the matter involves an entire community. He said the police would act in accordance with the findings of the inquiry committee.

The incident occurred in Rajgarh district's Dungarpur village in the first week of February. Her family filed a police complaint and the accused was arrested eight days later. When the news spread, the village heads concluded that since the news of the rape became public, the girl's family needed to perform a "public penance." They unanimously agreed that a bhandara was the way to go.

The village heads jotted down their diktat on a paper and took the signature of the girl's parents. The letter states that the girl's father agreed to conduct the bhandara of his own accord. Between 150 and 200 villagers, including those from nearby villages, also signed the letter, supporting the decree that the family would face boycott till they organise the feast.

Since then, no one in the village has invited the survivor's family to any social gathering. When the affected family hosted a function, no one turned up. In fact, even the invitation card was not accepted.

Frustrated, the family approached the authorities in Rajgarh district this week and the administration swung into action. Women and Child Development Officer Chandrasena Bhide said she would speak with the superintendent of police and everyone involved in victimising the survivor's family is brought to book.

Apprehending arrest, the village heads are on the run. Bhide said she can’t fathom the rationale of such practices. She assured that the government would take strict action.

The survivor's father wondered how he could possibly host a bhandara when he doesn't even have food to eat. He said the bhandara would cost nothing less than Rs 20,000. His wife added that they are labourers and live hand to mouth. The survivor's father complained that villagers don't even let him fetch water. He lamented that the situation is so bad that if they don't get help, his family can't go on.

The author is Rajgarh-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com

Updated Date: Jun 15, 2019 21:31:03 IST