A 48-year-old man, Arun Kisan Naikunji, was found hanging at his residence in Wadgaon Sheri in the early hours of Monday, after he and his family were reportedly boycotted by the caste panchayat for supporting an inter-caste marriage, which was attended by Arun’s brother.
Auto-rickshaw driver Arun’s family has claimed that he was driven to suicide by a caste panchayat’s refusal to lift a boycott imposed on his family two years ago.
The Veershaiva Lingayat Gawli Samaj Jaat Panchayat ordered the boycott as it was of the view that Arun’s brother, Appa, had helped a close friend, Dhiraj Pangudwale, from the same community to marry a woman from another caste. Following the boycott, Arun’s family stopped being invited to community functions. “We were not even allowed to attend marriages and funerals of close relatives,” said Appa.
Interestingly, Arun’s father was a “karbhari” of the panchayat before the family was boycotted.
Last year, the boycott was lifted for a day, when the family hosted the wedding of Arun’s son Chandrakant.
“The boycott was imposed after the marriage. My father asked the panchayat to lift it permanently, but they did not agree. On Sunday morning, my father went to meet the panch committee in Pune Camp. But the panchs insulted him and asked why he needed the community now. He returned home depressed. After we had slept, he locked the latches of our rooms,” said Chandrakant.
Arun was found hanging around 5.45 am when the family members woke up and got neighbours to open the latches, said police, adding that no suicide note was found at the spot.
Arun’s younger son, Suraj, has lodged a complaint with police. After preliminary investigation, Vanhappa Pailwan, Mankappa Aurange, Vitthal Pailwan, Kisan Janubas and other panchs of the panchayat have been booked for abetment to suicide, said ASI Rajendra Magar. No arrests have been made so far.