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Rural Justice Today

Medieval type of justice still prevails in villages in some parts of India. Dispensers of such a system have no regard for the Constitution of India or the Supreme Court decisions. A few chosen elders preside over the deliberations of life and death situations of the ‘accused’. With no appeals against their judgment, the sentence is carried out immediately. The accused will most probably face death.

The reasons mostly relate to inter-caste and intra-gotra marriages. The description that I am giving below is part of a real incident. Only the names have been changed.

…..Bantu was driving his tractor along with his uncle, who was a well-known wrestler in the area, late at night on that day. In the mud path, while trying to avoid a ditch, the unsuspecting beams of the tractor scouted and peered through the bushes bordering the forest beside the road. Two heads bobbed from behind the wavy curtain of greenery. They appeared to disappear! Tried to escape! The hunter torch was handy and after a difficult chase for about ten minutes a girl and a boy were caught by Bantu. They were into the obvious on that dark night.

The boy was given a sound thrashing, and the wrestler recognized him. He was a low-caste boy from his village. The girl was a Brahmin from the nearby village, whose family the wrestler knew well. He ordered the girl to run away, tied and bundled the boy into the trolley of the tractor. On reaching the village, the elders of the Village Panchayat were informed and the boy was lodged overnight in the cattle shed of the wrestler.

His trial began the next day. The big group of sadistic pleasure seekers from the village had assembled, and constantly hooted, as the boy was dragged on the ground. The community, to which the boy belonged, strongly protested, but they were in hopeless minority in the village.

The Five Elders began the deliberations.

The assembly looked like a big gathering in a crematorium. They exchanged opinions in whispers.

The Five Elders continued to deliberate.

Up to what extent the boy had flaunted the social norms of the caste ridden society and the unwritten laws governing the social life of the village?

The Five Elders continued to deliberate.

The serpent of caste endogamy had raised its hood blowing poisonous fumes with its fangs.

The crowd was getting restless.

“Beat him ton pulp”’ someone shouted.

“Knock him to the ground and crush his body,” another shrieked.

“Strip him and blacken his face”, another perverted one barked.

…….at that juncture, the girl made the dramatic appearance in the assembly and declared that she was a major and she loved the boy. They would get marry!

The crowd viciously protested and booed the girl as the boy fell to the ground and fainted!

After five hours of deliberations, and noisy interruptions from the crowd, it was finally asked to remain silent and the Elders announced their unanimous decision.

…The boy and the girl dared to defy the social norms,

…sought to mock at the sacred caste system,

…they are guilty of the most heinous crime of making inter-caste love,

…the village maryada(honor) must be vindicated,

…their audacity to bring badnami (a bad name) to their elders must be severely punished,

“ THE BOY FIRST, AND THE GIRL NEXT-AFTER A GAP OF FIVE MINUTES-SHOULD BE HANGED TILL DEATH ON TWO SEPARATE BRANCHES OF A TREE AND THE PUNISHMENT MUST BE CARRIED OUT AT ONCE.”

The culture of the vultures triumphed.

The loan policeman of the village had escaped, no one knows where, even before the trial commenced.

The sentence was carried out…the death was instantaneous in both the cases. The low caste death followed by the Brahmin death! Two strong ropes of the same ‘caste’ were used to hang them.

………..Early next morning a contingent or armed policemen, with the sniffer dogs, and a posse of press photographers and some local politicians landed on the scene of the crime. The policemen lowered the bodies after they were duly photographed from several angles. The yellow press was on fire!

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