Nine persons have been detained for allegedly assaulting a 19-year-old tribal man and 18-year-old tribal woman from Chiliyavant village in Chhota Udepur district after “tying them to a tree” and circulating a video of the incident.
According to an FIR registered at the Rangpur police station in the district, the accused were opposed to the relationship of the couple and assaulted them, a video of which was made and circulated to deter other tribal youth from falling in love within the community.
In her complaint, the woman said, “My male friend and I are adults and are in a relationship. We intend to marry and live with each other. On July 18, both of us left our homes to stay with a relative of my friend in a neighbouring village… A few villagers went to our homes and threatened our parents, abused them and accused them of tainting the culture of the community by encouraging our relationship. They also threatened to kill us.”
The FIR stated that the couple eloped on July 18 and stayed over at the house of the man’s brother-in-law. On July 19 morning, a few villagers found the couple while they were asleep and abducted them and threatened that they would be killed for “dishonouring the community”, the FIR states.
The woman told the police that the villagers forced them to sit on motorcycles and brought them back to their village near the house of one of the accused, where the two were tied to a tree.
“They took bamboo sticks and began thrashing us… They continued to tell us that they would beat both of us to death while one of the accused filmed the video of the assault… The group of men did not allow anyone from the villagers, who gathered there, to come forward to help us,” the woman said in her complaint. Both of them work as daily wage labourers, the complainant said.
The woman also mentioned that both the families, especially the parents of the man and woman, are facing threats from the accused. Investigating officer NM Bhuriya, sub-inspector of Rangpur police station, told this newspaper, “Both are adults, aged 18 and 19. While the boy is not yet of marriageable age, they are adults to make a decision on their relationship. The community they belong to considers it taboo to marry within the clan and hence a few men objected. Sensing trouble, they decided to begin a life away from the village. However, the group of men traced them and brought them back to the village and assaulted them on Tuesday.”
The nine accused who were nabbed on Wednesday following the complaint lodged by the girl have been identified as Ditali Dhanak, Gordhan Dhanak, Raju Rathwa, Reshma Dhanak, Guman Dhanak, Revji Dhanak, Raniya Dhanak, Kaliya Dhanak and Arvind Dhanak — all residents of Chiliyavant village. Bhuriya said that they will be formally arrested after Covid tests.
The accused have been booked under Indian Penal Code sections 323 for assault, 364 for forcefully enticing in order to be murdered, 342 for wrongful confinement, 142, 143 for being part of an unlawful assembly, 147 for rioting, 148 for rioting with a deadly weapon 149 for offence committed by an unlawful assembly for a common object, 504 for intentionally insulting and provoking to break the public peace and 506 (2) for criminal intimidation as well as section 67 of The Information Technology Act for publishing and transmitting obscene material in electronic form.