In a shocking incident, around eight panchas of a caste panchayat in Maharashtra's Parbhani district allegedly demanded sexual favours from a woman after her husband refused to pay Rs 6 lakh sought by them for 'settling' his 'debt'.
However, a successful intervention by the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS) not only led to lifting of the social boycott imposed on the couple, but the Panchayat itself was dissolved today.
The couple, identified as Deepak Bhore and his wife, belonged to 'Gondhali' community. The duo, both residents of Selu in Parbhani district of Marathwada, had taken a loan of Rs 90,000 from the panchas of their community around two years ago.
They claimed that though they had repaid Rs 2.50 lakh to Panchayat, the caste body demanded Rs 6 lakh to 'settle the outstanding amount' which the couple refused to pay, prompting the panchas to ostracize them.
Bhore's maternal uncle Subhash Ugle said today that the panchas forcefully entered their house in Selu on Monday and misbehaved with Deepak's wife.
Besides taking away with them household things, they also tied a chappal at the door of the house indicating that the Bhores were an outcast, he said today.
Deepak's wife claimed that the panchas demanded sexual favours from her if her husband was unable to pay Rs 6 lakh for 'settling' the debt.
After the boycott, the couple then fled to Nashik. Ugle said the Panchayat also warned him and his family members against helping the couple and threatened of social boycott if they defy their diktat.
Meanwhile, Ugle contacted MANS activist, Krishna Chandgude in Nashik and sought his help. Chandgude first convinced the couple to speak up against the Panchayat's diktat and also apprised the district administration about the issue.
He then made Gondhali community members understand that the Panchayat's decision was in a bad taste. As a result, the community asked the panchayat to withdraw the social boycott and later announced dissolving of the caste body.
"I talked to the panchas. They have agreed to dissolve the panchayat. The other panchyats should also follow them," Chandgude said.
He said that there was a need for a stringent act against such draconian panchyat system. "As the Gondhali panchayat is going to be scrapped it will come as a reprieve for lakhs of people from the community,"
Chandgude added. However, the incident was not reported to police.