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Odisha Village Kangaroo Court Bars Inter-Caste Marriage, Slaps Hefty Fine, Banishes Husband

Nabarangpur: Even after the law of the land legalizes inter-caste and inter-faith marriage, social stigma and dogma still stand as a stumbling block between the love birds by giving a damn to the fundamental right guaranteed by the sacred Constitution.

A glaring case in point is the inter-caste love marriage of a couple of Khadanga village under Raighar Police Station (PS) limits in the tribal-dominated district here. The marriage has already been endorsed by the court of law as it has been formally solemnized at the Court of Marriage Registrar.

The victim has been identified as Pratap Kalar who has not only been estranged from his wife, but also penalized with heavy sum, issued death threat and ostracized by the village kangaroo court.

As Pratap was in love with the daughter of fellow villager Mahinu Gond, they eloped to adjacent Kondagaon in neighbouring Chhattisgarh and tied the nuptial knot legally at a designated court of law there. They also sought the divine endorsement to their marriage at a temple there soon after.

After the newly-weds returned to their nativity, they had to pay a heavy price of hefty penalty money, estrangement and banishment imposed on the husband.

The peeved kin of the young married woman allegedly barged into Pratap’s home, threatened him and his family members, thrashed and dragged her back home consequently.

Seeking justice, Pratap had been to the Raighar Police Station (PS), but was allegedly driven out. However, the two sides were summoned to the police station and a compromise was drawn following which the new couple led a happy married life for two months.

Unfortunately, they were summoned by the village kangaroo court held at Hatabharandi. Pratap was allegedly issued a diktat to pay fine of Rs 50,000 for having an inter-caste love marriage and another Rs 50,000 for having knocked the door of police station.

After much persuasion and earnest appeal before the kangaroo court, undone Pratap had to cough up Rs 32,000 fine (Rs 25,000 for inter-caste marriage and Rs 7,000 for taking recourse to police station). Nevertheless, he could not get his wife back.

The kangaroo court further added salt to Pratap’s injury by banishing him from the village following which he has taken shelter in adjoining Chhattisgarh.

On the contrary, the Raighar PS IIC feigned ignorance of such allegations of Pratap and his sister Suchitra. The IIC claimed that no such complaints have been lodged in writing by the aggrieved side. He further assured that action will be taken if written complaint registered.

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