Family of a 15-year-old girl who was forcibly married to an older man in Barmer is being ostracised for allowing her to return home by going against the Khap panchayat’s order.
The family of 48-year-old Genaram Prajapat can no longer draw water from the common water source in his hamlet, 70 km east of the district headquarters, and shops refuse to sell them their wares. Prajapat, a carpenter who relied on odd jobs to make his living, has been left without work for the last couple of weeks. His son, who worked in a furniture shop owned by a distant relative in Tamil Nadu, too lost his job and returned home.
The family’s only fault was supporting their 15-year-old daughter when she did not wish to return to her 35-year-old husband, to whom she married in April last year.
“I gave in to the Khap’s pressure last year and married my daughter to a middle-aged man. The Khap had assured that I can keep her with us till she becomes a major and will be asked to live with her husband only after that,” Prajapat told HT. “But later they forced her to go to her husband’s house saying she has to participate in a ritual. When she did not return for 15 days, I went there and brought her back. She has refused to return saying he is impotent. She doesn’t want to live with him anymore.”
Prajapat said since May 2015, when the girl returned home, the caste panchayat approached the family thrice to pressure them to send the girl back to her husband. He said he approached the police in December but was no action was taken.
On February 1, the 17-man caste panchayat decreed that the family would be boycotted in 24 villages if the latter failed to send the girl back or pay a fine.
“We can’t do anything for the fear of the caste panchayat. If we help this family, we will also face similar action,” said a neighbour.
Prajapat, who lives with his parents and two children, was left helpless in the face of social boycott and decided to approach the court for relief.
On the court’s orders, the police registered a case against 17 accused on February 13 but no arrests have been made so far. Sheo police station SHO Dhannapuri Goswami said they were still investigating the case.
Members of the caste panchayat, who continue to roam free in the area, refused to speak on the issue. The family of 35-year-old man who was married to the minor girl too could not be reached for comment.