Kanjarbhats extend olive branch to virginity ritual protesters
Community members invite protesters to meeting in Kolhapur to clarify stand on the issue; group claims it's a pressure tactic
The Kanjarbhat community, which stirred controversy for its virginity ritual earlier this week, has decided to hold an urgent meeting to discuss the issue with members of the community at Ichalkaranji in Kolhapur. Over 25,000 members are expected to attend the event.
The development comes after a group of youngsters, who were trying to raise awareness about the illegality of the practice by filming it, were beaten up by the bride's family, on Sunday.
"The group created unwanted ruckus and have defamed our community. We have called them for the meeting to clear their doubts. From our end, we want to resolve the issue, but they are adamant on tarnishing our name. When we tried to get in touch with them, they called up the police," said Manoj Machare, president Maharashtra Kanjarbhat Samaj.
Members of the 'Stop the V Ritual' group that had raised their voice against the practice
The Kanjarbhats, who belong to a nomadic tribe in Maharashtra, have been practising the ritual for centuries. Colloquially known as Maal khara ya Khota [real goods or fake], the virginity ritual is carried out in front of the community members after the newly married couple has engaged in intercourse for the first time following their wedding. If the groom claims the bride is not a virgin, it either leads to the breakdown of the marriage or the bride's family has to pay compensation. "This is not true. If the girl's virginity is not proved, we do not disown her. We ensure she is still part of the community. We are only following our custom and nowhere in the Indian Constitution has it been mentioned that we cannot do this," Machare told mid-day. He added that the community would soon file a PIL against those attempting to ban the ritual.
Bablu Tamchikar, former president of the Maharashtra Kanjarbhat Samaj said, "My own daughter, who is educated and has a degree in computer science, agreed to the ritual. The issue is being blown out of proportion."
Meanwhile, Prashant Indrekar, a real estate agent who was part of the group that was assaulted, and had also lodged a complaint at the Pimpri police station against the bride's brothers, claimed that community members are trying to pressurise them, and not making peace, as they claimed. "Our parents and relatives are being mentally harrassed after we decided to expose them. Why are only women being targetted and victimised?" he asked.
25K No. of members expected to attend the event
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