Kanjarbhat youths, who are members of a WhatsApp group “Stop the V-ritual” that has been raising voice against their caste panchayat for conducting “virginity test” of brides on the “first night” of marriage, were beaten up by a group of about 40 people from the community during a marriage at Bhat Nagar in Pimpri on Sunday night. Prashant Ankush Indrekar (25), a resident of Bhat Nagar in Yerwada, has lodged a complaint at the Pimpri police station.
After receiving an invitation, Indrekar and his family had gone for the marriage of a Kanjarbhat couple near Zulelal complex in Bhat Nagar, Pimpri. “Marriage ceremony was over by 9 pm. Then, the caste panchayat held a meeting from about 10 pm to 11.30 pm. They talked about demanding money from the bride and groom. Also, there was a discussion supporting the virginity test of bride, claiming it was a part of their tradition… We did not oppose anyone at the spot. But, they knew that my friends and I are part of the WhatsApp group ‘Stop the V-ritual’, which creates awareness in the community against the unjust practice of virginity test of brides. So, they got angry and questioned us and then 30-40 youths, including Sunny Malke, brother of the girl who got married on Sunday, attacked Saurabh Jitendra Machale and Prashant Vijay Tamaichikar. When I intervened, they also started beating me. A person even thrashed us with a leather belt. We condemn this act,” said Indrekar, while speaking to The Indian Express.
Indrekar is a real estate agent, while Machale (25) is a student of Fergusson College and Tamaichikar (23) holds a private job. Based on a first information report lodged by Indrekar, the Pimpri police booked 40 persons including Malke, Vinayak Malke and others under sections 143, 147, 149, 323, 509, 427 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Senior police inspector Shridhar Jadhav of Pimpri police station said, “We have so far arrested two persons identified as Amol Bhat and Madhukar Bhat in this case.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone III) Ganesh Shinde said, “As per our investigation, the quarrel erupted as the accused questioned the complainant regarding virginity tests…” Shinde said the accused were opposed to the frequent campaigning being carried out by the complainant.
Meanwhile, Indrekar said police should also invoke sections of the Maharashtra Protection of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act against the accused persons.
The Indian Express had first reported about the group of Kanjarbhat youths led by Vivek Tamaichikar, a Masters student at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, who formed the WhatsApp group “Stop the V-ritual”. A WhatsApp group member, Siddhant Dashrath Indrekar (21), had even filed a complaint against the Kanjarbhat caste panchayat at the Vishrantwadi police station on November 25, 2017.
Later, with the help of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS), the WhatsApp group members also had a meeting with deputy commissioner of police Deepak Sakore and submitted a complaint having signatures of 33 people from the Kanjarbhat community who want to stop virginity test.
Nandini Jadhav, district president of MANS, said, “We condemn the attack on progressive Kanjarbhat. Police should consider this issue seriously and ensure that stern legal action against the caste panchayat.”