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A community panchayat in a village in Guna district of Madhya Pradesh has asked a man to marry off his five-year-old daughter to expiate his ‘sin’ of killing a calf. The bizarre development came to light when the girl’s mother approached the district administration on Friday. Tarapur, the village in Aron tehsil where this diktat was issued, is dominated by Banjara community.
“Girl’s mother approached us, requesting to stop the marriage. A panchayat (community body, not gram panchayat) was convened four months ago which ordered the family to marry off their child,” said additional district magistrate Niaz Khan.
“A team of officials visited the village yesterday. We have asked the woman Anganwadi (pre-primary school) worker in the village to keep an eye on developments and report to us,” the ADM said.
The complainant said that some four months ago, her husband hit a calf with a stone to shoo it away from their field, but the animal later died. A community panchayat was convened, which ostracised the family.
To atone, the family should go on pilgrimage and organise a feast for the entire village later, the panchayat said.
The family agreed, but the boycott didn’t end even then.
The panchayat allegedly said there were several marriageable youths in the village, but marriages were not being solemnised because of calf’s death.
“The panchayat said therefore the family would need to marry off their daughter as per local custom,” Khan said.
Not stopping there, the panchayat fixed the girl’s marriage with an eight-year-old boy from Vidisha district.
The mother decided to defy this coercion and approached the administration on April 14.
The administration asked four persons including fathers of the girl and the `groom’ to execute bonds of Rs 20,000 each under the Criminal Procedure Code. If the bond is violated, police can take action in anticipation of “breach of peace” against the person.
“We are monitoring the situation,” the ADM added.