Residents of a Bihar village partially tonsured the heads of five alleged habitual gamblers and part-time thieves and paraded them in public after smearing paint on their faces, the police said on Sunday.
Renu Thakur, the mukhia (chief) of Panchpakari panchayat in East Champaran district of north Bihar, and her husband reportedly instigated fellow villagers to hand out the public humiliation to the five.
The police had picked up the five men on a complaint by the villagers, but released them after a group of villagers led by Thakur withdrew the case.
Thakur justified the public humiliation. “I only did what the villagers wanted. The public opinion was that parading them would bring down incidence of theft and gambling.”
The families of the five men as well as the Bihar human rights commission, however, are not amused.
The rights body member and former state director general of police, Neelmani, said he was getting the matter examined. “If no action is taken, the BHRC may take suo motu cognisance.”
East Champaran superintendent of police Ganesh Kumar said he had sought a report on the matter from the local police.
“Human rights have been violated. Action will be taken if a report is filed against those involved in the incident.”