Days after social boycott became a crime in Maharashtra, the police today registered perhaps first such case under the new law on a complaint lodged by around 14 families who alleged social ostracism by the panch committee for marrying outside their community.
Maharashtra became the first state in the country to enact a law to punish social boycott after the President gave his assent last week to the Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) bill, 2016, passed by the state legislature in April last year.
Punishment for an offense under the new act includes a fine up to Rs five lakh and imprisonment up to seven years or both.
Acting on the complaint lodged by these families belonging to Telugu Parit community, the case was registered under the new act against 17 members of the community, said Satish Govekar, senior police inspector of the Kondhwa police station.
"Those booked include the panch committee members who had taken a decision of boycotting the members of these families for inter-caste marriage," the officer said.
As per the complaint, these families were ostracised for marrying outside the community.
The complainants said they sought help of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS) for registration of the case.
Chandar Kutpelli, the father of one of the complainants, said he belonged to Telugu Madelwar Parit community and his son married a girl from another caste in 2012.
"The community members (panch) took an objection to the inter-caste marriage and boycotted our family," he said.
Kutpelli said he too was ostracised from the community for attending one such marriage.
"There are around 40 families of our community in Pune. Despite repeated pleas to the members of our community, they never take us back and even boycotted our functions," claimed Kutpelli.
He said the victim families approached the police station and lodged a complaint on learning about the new law.
Another complainant Umesh Rudrap said he had married outside the community in 1990 and was boycotted.
"My son is 25-year-old now and we are not invited to any function in the community. We are also facing difficulties in finding a suitable girl for him in the community," he said.