A married woman in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district, 230km from Patna, was tonsured and her eyebrows were shaved off by a mob, which accused her of having an illicit relationship with a co-villager.
Police said the incident took place on Tuesday at Wade Dharpur village, 25 km from Bhagalpur, when the mother of three was found in company of Ranjeet Paswan at her house. The villagers also beat up Paswan, the police said, adding that the victim woman’s husband lived at Malda in West Bengal for earning livelihood.
The woman, who had been illegally confined at her house by angry villagers, was rescued on Wednesday, the police said.
Nand Kishore Yadav, husband of village sarpanch, ward member Mahadeo Pandit and 16 others have been made named accused in the FIR registered at Goaradih police station in connection with the incident. The FIR, lodged by the victim woman, also mentions over 100 unknown persons as accused.
Bhagalpur senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manoj Kumar said the FIR had been registered under sections 354 B (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), besides relevant sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Act.
Kumar said four persons, Ranjit Pandit, Santosh Pandit, Kunadan Pandit and Bajrangi Thakur — the man who tonsured the victim — had been arrested. Raids were on to nab the remaining culprits, he added.
The woman had been brought to Bhagalpur and kept at women police station, the SSP said. “After her statement is recorded, the police will review her safety concerns and accordingly take a decision on sending her to back to her village at Wade Dharpur,” he said.
Police said Paswan had stayed back at the woman’s house after they returned from a dance programme late on Monday night, the SSP said.
The woman, however, told the police that Paswan was known to her husband. “On Monday, I met him at a village market. Paswan accompanied me to my house and was charging his cellphone when the villagers caught him,” she said.