Pune: Woman who alleged members of ‘jaat panchayat’ socially boycotted her family last year ‘assaulted by kin of accused’

Last year, Rita and her family members were allegedly “boycotted” for a period of one year after her mother Nanda had refused to let the ‘jaat panchayat’ resolve a property dispute in their family.

A woman from the ‘Bhatu Samaj’ Kanjarbhat community, who had registered an offence against members of the community’s ‘jaat panchayat’ in 2020 for “socially boycotting” her family for a period of one year, was allegedly assaulted recently by the kin of a person she had named in the police complaint.

The woman, Suhani alias Rita Kumbhar (33), a resident of Dhankawadi in Pune, has now lodged a fresh complaint at the Sahakarnagar police station against six persons, including three women, for allegedly beating her on July 17.

Last year, Rita and her family members were allegedly “boycotted” for a period of one year after her mother Nanda had refused to let the ‘jaat panchayat’ resolve a property dispute in their family.

Following a complaint in this regard filed by Rita, an FIR was lodged under sections of the Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016, at the Bharati Vidyapeeth police station in Pune city on November 20, 2020, against the members of the alleged ‘jaat panchayat’ of Kanjarbhat community.

According to the FIR, a ‘Bhatu Samaj Panchayat’ meeting was held at Garade village on November 3, 2020, where orders to “boycott” Rita and her family were allegedly passed. Videos of this meeting, which were submitted to the police, reportedly show the accused persons saying that Rita, her sister, mother, husband and in-laws have been “boycotted” from the community for one year, and that “if they want to come back to the community, they will have to give Rs 1 lakh, five liquor bottles and five bokad (male goats) as fine within one year, or else they will be boycotted forever”. This FIR was later transferred to the Saswad police station for further investigation as Garade village was under its jurisdiction.
Rita’s husband Vikas Kumbhar told The Indian Express, “My wife had named 11 persons in the previous police complaint. Saswad police had arrested seven persons while four others, including Rupesh Kumbhar, had managed to get anticipatory bail.”

According to Rita’s fresh complaint, Rupesh resides near her mother Nanda’s house in Dhankawadi. She and her daughter Vedika went to meet Nanda at 5 pm on July 17. Nanda was yet to reach home, so they were waiting at the spot when Rupesh’s wife spotted them. Blaming Rita for naming Rupesh in the police complaint last year, she and two more women assaulted Rita and Vedika, according to the complaint.
Rita said that she immediately called the police control room number 100 but the call did not connect, so she called her husband Vikas. Vikas then called the 1091 police helpline number.

“In some time, I reached the spot and the police also arrived. Rupesh and two others who were holding sticks and a sharp weapon backed off when they saw the police…Rita then lodged a complaint at the Sahkarnagar police station against Rupesh, his wife and four others,” said Vikas.
The six accused persons have been booked under sections 143, 144, 147, 148, 323, 504 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code.

“A video of the accused women beating my wife and daughter was circulated on social media to defame us. This video clearly shows that my wife was attacked for naming Rupesh in the police complaint last year. We gave the video to the police but they have not taken it on record yet,” said Vikas.

When contacted, Senior Police Inspector Swati Desai of Sahkarnagar police station said they arrested two persons and further investigation is underway.

Nandini Jadhav, an activist from the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS), said, “This is a serious case where a complainant in a social boycott case has been attacked. Initially, the police had registered a non-cognizable offence in this case. After we had a meeting with the police officials, they lodged an FIR on July 19 and initiated a probe.”

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