In the first case of its kind under the Maharashtra Protection of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2016, the members of Telgu Madelwar Parit Community in Pune filed a complaint against the members of their caste panchayat at the Kondhwa police station on Monday. The complainants were allegedly socially boycotted by their caste panchayat over inter-caste marriage. Umesh Chandrakant Rudrap (51), a private vehicle driver, a resident of Shivneri Nagar in Kondhwa, lodged the first information report (FIR). Accordingly, the Kondhwa police have booked 17 persons under Maharashtra Protection of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act.
The bill was passed by the state legislature in April 2016 and the Act came into force from July 13, 2017 after receiving the assent of President Pranab Mukherjee. Police have identified the 17 accused as Rajendra Narsu Mhakale, president of the caste panchayat of Telgu Madelwar Parit community, vice-president Sunil Dattu Kodgir, secretary Anil Vargante, joint secretaries Shridhar Belgude and Suresh Gundarkar, treasurer Sunil Vargante, joint treasurer Devidas Vargante, chief convenor Shivanna Armur, joint convenors Vasant Vargante, Lakshman Belgude and Sanjay Yelpure, advisors Tulshiram Telakallu, Premchand Vadpelli, Subhash Katrolu, Narayan Istolkar, women representative Manisha Asarkar and Swaroopa Ambep, all residents of the New Modikhana in Pune Camp area.
As per the complaint, Rudrap got married to a woman of another caste about 25 years ago. The caste panchayat of his community had then passed an order, boycotting him from the community. Rudrap stated that he repeatedly approached the caste panchayat authorities, requesting them to lift the boycott as his children had grown up, but are not allowed to participate in any functions and activities of the community. Rudrap mentioned that the accused caste panchayat members insulted him when he attended any marriage ceremony of persons from his community. Along with Rudrap, eleven more families from the Telgu Madelwar Parit Community in Pune, who have faced social boycott, filed the complaint on Monday.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Rudrap said, “There are at least 40 family in Pune from my community who have been socially boycotted by the caste panchayat following inter-caste marriage. We approached the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS) for help about two years back. MANS activists have been helping us since then. We even sought help from the police in the past. But due to lack of strong law, we did not get enough support. After the Prohibition of Social Boycott bill came into force, we lodged the FIR with the help of MANS, formed by slain anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar.”
MANS president Avinash Patil, Krushna Chandgude, who heads the movement against caste panchayats, principal secretary Milind Deshmukh and city president Nandini Jadhav were present at the Kondhwa police station when the FIR in this case was lodged.
Senior police inspector Satish Govekar is monitoring the investigation in this case. No arrests were made till reports last came in. Police said that the investigation was on and based on it, further action will be taken.
Milind Deshmukh said, “This is the first case in the state. In fact, this is the first in the country under the Prohibition of Social Boycott Act. We hope the police investigate the case properly and give justice to the victims. Caste panchayats across the country have been running a parallel legal system and have imposed social boycott on many. MANS will campaign for the implementation of this law in all states.”
Maharashtra is the first state in the country to formulate a law to punish social boycott. Punishment for an offence under the Prohibition of Social Boycott Act includes a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh and imprisonment of up to seven years or both.