The panchayat of a tribal village in Betul on Friday ordered tonsuring of the head of a woman, who had allegedly eloped with her married uncle, a father of two, recently.
However, the woman told villagers that the man had abducted her from village market and moved her from place to place. Her pleas that she should be allowed to go back to her family fell on deaf ears, she added. "The panchayat by tonsuring my head has insulted me and my family," she said.
The panchayat also made the man, who returned to the village with the woman, run around with a garland of shoes and a grinding stone tied to his chest. The couple had eloped from village Chikhlar, just 5km from the district headquarters, three months ago. Upon coming to know of the tonsuring, police registered a report against 16 persons, a move that met with bellicose protests from villagers at the police station demanding that the report be withdrawn.
The villagers justified the action of their panchayat. After police intervention, family members of the girl spoke out against the panchayat diktat.
Sukhnandan, a resident of the village of some 50 families, had eloped with his niece three months ago. Sukhnandan is married and has two children. After staying away from the village for three months, the couple returned to the village, after which the community panchayat convened the meeting.
Anganwadi worker of the village reported the matter to police after which a case was registered.
Additional SP Geetesh Garg said that panchayat’s decision was illegal and a case has been registered against 16 persons.