Karnataka Khap panchayat ostracises 16-year-old pregnant Dalit girl


 

Bannisorige village elders upset that she had an affair with a lower caste boy, thus “offending the family and the village”

Imran Khan 
Bengaluru

 May 2, 20120–A khap panchayat in Karnataka has ostracised a 16-year-old Dalit girl for getting pregnant by her lover. Jaya (name changed to protect identity), who works as a labourer, was slapped with a fine of Rs 10,000 by the Bannisorige village panchayat in Chamrajanagar district before banishing her. The village elders were particularly furious with Jaya for falling in love with Kumar who belongs to a caste considered lower than hers.

The incident came to light when Jaya was found begging at the Kollegal government hospital, near her village, by a local journalist. Now, seven months into her pregnancy Jaya had spent almost a month staying in the hospital compound, since she was banished from her village by the panchayat. When the matter was highlighted by the local media, the hospital authorities swung into action and admitted her as an in-patient; after nearly ignoring her for a month.

Jaya got into an intimate relationship with Kumar, who hails from the neighbouring village of Agrahara, after he promised to marry her. However, her family, who got wind of her relationship after she conceived, was furious when they realised that the boy hailed from a different caste.

The matter was reported to the village elders who held her “guilty” of “offending the family and the village” by having an affair with a boy from a lower caste. The panchayat declared her guilty and slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 and sent her out of the village.

Left to fend for herself, Jaya went to the government hospital in nearby Kollegal taluk for treatment. When the hospital authorities failed to take notice of her, Jaya started living at the corridors of the hospital and was forced to beg for food and money from the visitors at the hospital.

When contacted, the local police authorities said that despite being aware of the situation there was little they could do since no complaint had been registered. Chairperson of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Nina P Nayak told Tehelka that the commission will investigate the matter and take further action.

Imran Khan is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.
imran@tehelka.com

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Love’ ignites communal tension in Uttar Pradesh « kracktivist

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