In a clear sign that the caste system is still alive and well in the country, a village panchayat has ordered the ostracisation of a couple in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district for marrying outside their caste.
In its diktat, the South Pandarkanali panchayat in Chirudih village ordered the families of the couple to cut all ties with them, including their right to ancestral property and to perform last rites in accordance with the scriptures. Also, refusal to comply with the orders of the despotic body would invite an exorbitant fine of Rs 15,000.
The couple, Santosh Kumar Das and Archna Kumari, had defied caste barriers and their families, and solemnised their marriage in court about a month ago. After the news of them eloping spread through the village, a panchayat meeting was convened last week.
“It was a social offense and the decision was in the village’s interest. Inter-caste marriage can’t be recognised in our society,” said Jogendra Das, mukhiya of the gram panchayat, adding that the decision had the approval of the villagers.
The victims’ families, however, disagree.
“It is illogical and inhuman, (also) consensual marriage is not a crime,” a family member said requesting anonymity. “We are paying the price for something we were not part of or responsible for.”
While the panchayat has decided to reconvene on Sunday to ascertain its diktat has been complied with, the couple fled the village, fearing for their lives.
Meanwhile, police were clueless about any such development in the village. “None of the families has lodged a complaint with us,” said an official of the Putki police station.