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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)

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

 

  • 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.

SHARE
  • 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

Indian President Launches Pulse Polio Programme for 2019

He applauded the efforts of thousands of volunteers, frontline workers and health officials for tireless work for keeping the country polio-free

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Polio
A health worker gives polio vaccine to a girl in Lahore, Pakistan. VOA

President Ram Nath Kovind, here on Saturday, launched the 2019 pulse polio programme by administering polio drops to children below five years at the Rahstrapati Bhawan.

The launch was organised on the eve of the National Immunisation Day, which will be observed on Sunday.

“Over 17 crore children below five years will be administered polio drops as part of the government drive to support polio eradication programme,” said a release.

Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda, also present on the occasion, said the Universal Immunisation Programme was focusing on protecting children from diseases and has introduced several new vaccines, like pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, rotavirus vaccine and measles-rubella vaccine.

“To provide additional protection to the children, the government has also introduced the injectable inactivated polio vaccine in the routine immunisation programme,” Nadda said.

Polio, afghanistan
A boy receives polio vaccination drops during an anti-polio campaign in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

Pointing out that the government was making all efforts to protect children from diseases, he said the vaccines under the programme must reach the last child of the country.

“Along with the Universal Immunisation Programme, we have also launched the Mission Indradhanush to achieve more than 90 per cent immunisation coverage. Over 3.39 crore children and 87 lakh pregnant women have been vaccinated through the Mission Indradhanush drives,” Nadda said.

Strengthening of the immunisation programme has contributed to the decline of infant mortality from 39 per 1,000 live births in 2014 to 32 in 2017, he added.

Also Read- Researchers Identify Key Gene Behind Breast Cancer

Nadda also appreciated the efforts of state governments and supporting organisations, like the WHO, UNICEF and Rotary International, for strengthening the polio programme as well as other immunisation initiatives.

He applauded the efforts of thousands of volunteers, frontline workers and health officials for tireless work for keeping the country polio-free. (IANS)