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Legislative Council Oppn leader seeks action against ‘jaat panchayat’ for ‘social boycott’ of Kanjarbhat family

A Pune-based woman from the Kanjarbhat community, Suhani alias Rita Kumbhar (32), and her family were “boycotted” for a period of one year after her mother Nanda refused to let the community’s ‘jaat panchayat’ resolve their property dispute.

Written by Chandan Haygunde | Pune | December 6, 2020 3:19:07 am
Vikas Kumbhar from the Kanjarbhat community is among those who have been facing a “social boycott” by the ‘jaat panchayat’. (Pavan Khengre)

Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, BJP leader Pravin Darekar, on Saturday met Superintendent of Pune Rural Police Abhinav Deshmukh, seeking proper investigation into the alleged social boycott of a family from Kanjarbhat community by the ‘jaat (caste) panchayat’.

In the case, first reported by The Indian Express, a Pune-based woman from the Kanjarbhat community, Suhani alias Rita Kumbhar (32), and her family were “boycotted” for a period of one year after her mother Nanda refused to let the community’s ‘jaat panchayat’ resolve their property dispute.

The ‘jaat panchayat’ had allegedly also demanded a fine of Rs 1 lakh, five liquor bottles, and five bokad (male goats) from Rita’s family as fine and warned of permanent social boycott if they failed to fulfill these demands.

The ‘jaat panchayat’ allegedly also issued a diktat declaring that “women have no rights over their ancestral property”.

“The act against social boycott was passed in 2016. But still, some unfortunate incidents of social boycott are taking place and they should be taken seriously. I spoke to the SP regarding this case. The SP has assured that the accused will be arrested,” said Darekar while speaking to mediapersons after his meeting with Deshmukh.

He added, “Only police action is not sufficient… counseling of the communities is needed to solve such issues. The government should start a campaign in this regard. I will be raising this point in the upcoming session. I have also asked the police to submit their report about this case.”

Rita had initially lodged an FIR at the Bharati Vidyapeeth police station in Pune city on November 20 against seven persons, including members of the alleged ‘jaat panchayat’. Police have booked the accused under sections of the Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016.

Later, the case was transferred to Saswad police station under Pune Rural Police on November 29 as the alleged ‘jaat panchayat’ meeting, in which Rita and her family were “socially boycotted”, was held at Garade village in Purandar taluka, which is in its jurisdiction.

No arrests have taken place in connection with the case yet. Activists of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS), who are helping the complainant in this case, were also present during the meeting. Months before his murder in 2013, rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, the founder of MANS, had started a protest against social boycotts in view of the rising number of atrocities by ‘jaat panchayats’.

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