A woman on Tuesday reiterated her complaint that a Rajasthan khap panchayat had ordered her to live with the man whose wife eloped with her husband though the village council and local residents refuted her allegation.
Mamta Bai, 25, and her 55-year-old mother-in-law Moni Bai persisted with the accusation that the panchayat of Notara Bhopat village issued a diktat ordering Mamta to live with Rajendra Meghwal or pay him Rs 3 lakh as compensation.
Officials at Talera police station of Bundi district said they had not found any evidence to substantiate the allegations made by the women.
The women further alleged that a large stone was lobbed at their home on Tuesday, following which police arrested Rajendra’s brother Bhairulal for breach of peace.
After Mamta filed a complaint with police a few days ago, Rajendra and another of his brothers, Heeralal, apparently went into hiding.
When Mamta’s husband Kalulal Meghwal eloped, their neighbour Rajendra approached the khap panchayat, which gave Mamta two options - either live with Rajendra as his spouse, or pay him compensation.
Rajendra also filed an FIR against Kalulal for fleeing with his wife and two children. Subsequently, Mamta filed a complaint with police over Rajendra’s decision to approach the caste panchayat.
When Hindustan Times went to Mamta’s house on Tuesday, her mother-in-law said the panchayat’s diktat was unfair as Kalulal, and not Mamta, was at fault. Moni Bai said her son eloped with Rajendra’s wife Sonia about a fortnight ago and since then, Rajendra had been pressuring the family.
Moni Bai alleged she was forced to attend a caste panchayat at midnight on Friday at the Baba Ramdev Temple in Notara Bhopat. The panchayat ordered her to either produce Rajendra’s wife or pay Rs 3 lakh to Rajendra.
If Moni Bai was unable to do this, she should send Mamta to Rajendra, the panchayat ordered. Moni Bai refused to accept the panchayat's orders and approached the Talera police station.
Mamta and Moni Bai showed the door handle that was broken when a stone was allegedly lobbed at their home. They claimed Rajendra and his brothers were responsible for the incident.
“We went to Talera police station today and registered a complaint for the attack on our house,” said Mamta.
Moni Bai claimed Rajendra had borrowed Rs 28600 from Kalulal a couple of years ago and he had now got an opportunity to wriggle out of replaying the loan.
Kalulal Meghwal, 75, a member of the panchayat, acknowledged that the council had summoned Moni Bai but said the body had not issued any diktat.
“No diktat was spelled out as the panchayat had asked Moni Bai to call her husband Kanha for a decision in the matter but Moni Bai departed from the panchayat. Hence, no diktat was issued,” he claimed.
Rajendra’s only kin, his 85-year-old father Raghunath, too denied the panchayat had issued any diktat.
Mamta’s neighbor Motilal said the panchayat had met but he did not have information about any kind of diktat. Similar statements were made by many other villagers, mostly members of the Meghwal community.
Satyanarayan, the police officer investigating the matter, said police were looking for Rajendra to record his statement but his family had claimed he was away looking for his wife Sonia.
Police had interacted with villagers and members of panchayat but had found no evidence to corroborate the complaints made by Mamta and Moni Bai, Satyanarayan said.
Khap panchayats that act as extrajudicial bodies have come under growing scrutiny after being accused of trying to reinforce conservative attitudes toward caste and morality, perpetuating a patriarchal order. They have also been blamed for the spread of so-called honour killings, ordering bans on women wearing tight clothing and trying to prohibit the use of mobile phones by youngsters.