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Social Boycott is now Banned in Maharashtra

It has been criminalized under the court of law with a penance of seven year imprisonment or a fine of 500,000, or both.

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To go with story 'India-social-marriage-caste,FEATURE' by Abhaya Srivasta In this photograph taken on May 5, 2014 Inder Singh More, the head of the 42-village Khap panchayat or local village council, speaks during a meeting in Hissar district of the northern state of Haryana. For as long as anyone can remember, villagers north of India's capital have lived under two sets of laws -- those of the government and another imposed by unelected but powerful men. Now in a sign of major reform coming to a corner of the country steeped in tradition, Haryana state's largest council has allowed couples from neighbouring villages to marry, even if they belong to different castes. AFP PHOTO/ SAJJAD HUSSAIN (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)
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By Aakash Jakhar

An age-old practice of village councils to obtrude “social boycott” that repudiate people for flouting tradition, has been quashed by the government of Maharashtra, making it the first state in the nation to put an end to this decades-old practice.

The oppressed and the untouchables and women often lug the burden of the consequent discernment, passed so as to penalize for the discerned violations like inter-caste marriages or dressing indecently.

Last month, the state has put sanctions against the practice of social boycotts. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis said, “The Act was required against the backdrop of atrocities inflicted on people in the name of tradition, caste and community”. He also added, “It is necessary to prohibit social boycotts as a matter of social reform in the interest of public welfare”.

Related article: Women barred from entering into Maharashtra Shani Temple

People along with their families have been exiled from their community as per the orders of the village council and no prior access to temples, occasions and markets. In some cases, women were even tagged as necromancers by the village council, and commanded mass killings or gang rapes as a punishment.

According to the new law passed in Maharashtra, social boycott is a crime under the court of law with a penance of seven year imprisonment or a penalty of 500,000($7,500), or both. Human Rights activists asked other states to follow Maharashtra’s act and look at it as an example.

Road leading to a village in Maharashtra. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Road leading to a village in Maharashtra. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

“The law will help check caste crimes to some extent. It empowers lower-caste people and it empowers Human rights organisations, as it gives us a tool with which to fight against village panchayats,” said Irfan Engineer, Director of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism in Mumbai. “We need a similar law in the rest of the country, particularly in states where (unelected) khap panchayats are strong,” he told Reuters.

Khap panchayats are non-elected village panchayats consisting of people from a specific caste or clan. Since 1992, their power has reduced, when the elected village panchayats were made obligatory. But, they still hold a strong and powerful position in the socially hidebound states including Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and parts of Uttar Pradesh.

In 2011, Supreme Court described these unelected Panchayats as “Kangaroo Courts” that are completely illegitimate.

The state of Maharashtra has been a home to some of the eminent social reformers like BR Ambedkar who opposed and fought against caste discrimination and enacted laws declaring the practices of human sacrifices and other superstitious beliefs as a criminal offence under the court of law.

“The social boycott act is another step towards ending outdated customs,” said Avinash Patil, Executive President of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, who had campaigned for the bill, as well as the 2013 law. He said, “We are demanding that the central government enact similar laws in all states, so we can end this brutal practice”.

Aakash is an engineering graduate from Sat Kabir Institute of Technology and Management, Haryana. Twitter @DabanggDragon

 

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  • Shubhi Mangla

    Finally some relief to the people to the inhabitants of Maharashtra

  • Pragya Jha

    Boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for social or political reasons.

  • Pragya Jha

    Its a 9 hour work cycle. The job of being a dabbawala is not an easy task.

  • Pashchiema Bhatia

    There several other activities performed in Rural areas which violate the basic Human Rights. Government should take more steps to spread awareness and develop the education system in small villages.

  • Shubhi Mangla

    Finally some relief to the people to the inhabitants of Maharashtra

  • Pragya Jha

    Boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for social or political reasons.

  • Pragya Jha

    Its a 9 hour work cycle. The job of being a dabbawala is not an easy task.

  • Pashchiema Bhatia

    There several other activities performed in Rural areas which violate the basic Human Rights. Government should take more steps to spread awareness and develop the education system in small villages.

Next Story

Anna Hazare Breaks Fast After Government Assurance

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Anna Hazare finally breaks his fast after government assurance. IANS
Anna Hazare finally breaks his fast after government assurance. IANS
  • Anna Hazare called off his hunger strike after government’s assurance
  • He fasted in Delhi’s Ramlila Ground
  • He fasted against unfair crop prices, electoral policies and Lokpal appointments

Social activist Anna Hazare on Thursday called off his hunger strike in support of his demands as the Central government sought six months to deal with his demands on fair crop prices, Lokpal appointment and electoral reforms.

Anna Hazare wants government to finish corruption completely and take steps in the right direction. Wikimedia Commons

“The government has agreed to demand on crop prices and agreed to take steps on the appointment of a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states as soon as possible,” Hazare said as he announced that he was going to break his fast.

Hazare said he had been assured regarding the new electoral reforms and implementation of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee report to address the agrarian crisis in the country.

Also Read: Anna Hazare to initiate mass awakening through his Jan-Jagran Yatra

“The governments are meant for the public and it is government’s responsibility to provide the best service to its people,” he said.

Anna Hazare raised his voice against corruption and went ahead with his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
Anna Hazare has also raised his voice against corruption and went ahead with his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi earlier. Wikimedia Commons

Hazare launched his agitation in support of his demands at the Ramlila Maidan here on March 23. Earlier, he had launched a movement against corruption in 2011. IANS