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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.

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

President Of Sri Lanka Suspends The Parliament, Political Turmoil

Under his government, dozens of journalists were killed, abducted and tortured and some fled the country fearing for their lives.

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Sri lanka
Sri Lanka's former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, front left, is sworn in as prime minister before President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo, Sri Lanka. VOA

Sri Lanka ’s president suspended parliament Saturday even as the prime minister he fired the previous day claimed he has majority support, adding to a growing political crisis in the island nation.

Chaminda Gamage, a spokesman for the parliamentary speaker, confirmed that President Maithripala Sirisena had suspended parliament until Nov. 16.

The suspension came while ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was holding a news conference in which he asserted that he could prove his majority support in parliament.

Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe and his Cabinet Friday and replaced him with former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa, creating what some observers said could be a constitutional crisis in the South Asian island nation.

 

sri lanka
Sri Lanka’s ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe reacts during a news conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka, VOA

 

Constitutional crisis

Wickremesinghe said parliament should be allowed to resolve the political crisis.

“As far as the prime ministership is concerned, the person who has the majority support in parliament has to be the prime minister, and I have that majority of support,” he said. “When a motion of no confidence was moved (in the past), we defeated it showing that the house has the confidence in me.”

“It is not necessary for us to create a crisis. It is not necessary for the people of the country to suffer,” Wickremesinghe said.

Tensions have been building up between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe for some time, because the president did not approve of some of the economic reforms being introduced by the prime minister. Sirisena was also critical of police investigations into military personnel accused in the abductions and disappearances of civilians and journalists during Sri Lanka’s long civil war, which ended a decade ago.

 

sri lanka
Sri Lankan former President Mahinda Rajapakse addresses journalists at his residence in Colombo, Sept. 22, 2018. Rajapakse has been appointed the Sri Lanka’s new prime minister. VOA

Strongman returns

Rajapaksa ruled Sri Lanka as president for nine years beginning in 2005, accumulating immense power and popularity among the country’s majority ethnic Sinhalese after overseeing the military’s brutal defeat of ethnic Tamil rebels in May 2009, ending the 25-year civil war. Some supporters hailed him as a king and savior.

But he also was criticized for failing to allow an investigation into allegations of war crimes by the military. Under his government, dozens of journalists were killed, abducted and tortured and some fled the country fearing for their lives. He lost a bid for re-election in 2015 amid mounting allegations of corruption and nepotism.

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His return to power as prime minister could signal that Sri Lanka is sliding back to an era of violence against political opponents, critics and journalists, observers said. (VOA)