In a bizarre development, a farmer has been slapped with a penalty of Rs 21,000 for allegedly damaging a stone idol symbolising the village deity at his farm and also threatened with ‘social boycott’ if he failed to cough out the money, a Gondia police officials said here on Friday.
The incident occurred on June 9 when the peasant, Tikaram P. Pardhi was carrying out the ground levelling work in his farm where the stone idol got accidentally damaged, enraging the Sitepar village of around 2,600 people, said Amgaon Police Inspector Vilas Nale.
“Later, the Sitepar Village Panchayat met, ruled that the incident had hurt their religious sentiments and imposed a fine of Rs 21,000 with a threat of ‘social boycott’ if Pardhi refused to pay up. Since this is illegal, we have initiated action against the concerned persons there following the victim’s complaint,” Nale told IANS.
The defiant Pardhi rejected the punishment and countered the diktat by lodging a complaint with Amgaon Police Station on Wednesday (June 16) demanding action against the village elders, including a Police Patil.
The Investigating Officer Balraj Lanjewar said that the villagers believe the stone deity is their ‘Kul-Devta’ and as per traditions, they kick-off the new annual crop season during monsoon by worshipping the deity which was allegedly damaged by Pardhi in his field.
The village Sarpanch Gopal F. Meshram claimed that the fine amount would be used to repair the stone idol, perform ‘puja’ and sacrifice to appease the deity, and construct a small temple at the site to prevent any such accidents in future.
Pardhi said in his police complaint that he was not financially well-off and hence could not afford to pay the fine, after which the Panchayat warned him of a ‘social boycott’.
Nale revealed that besides the Sarpanch Meshram, eight others, including the village Police Patil, have been booked under sections of Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016 and served them notices.
The accused include: Police Patil Ulhasrao B. Bisen, Tekchand D. Madavi, Rajendra H. Bisen, Pratap L. Bisen, Yogesh H. Bisen, Puran L. Bisen, Yadavrao S. Bisen and Sudhir H. Bisen, and further investigations are underway, Nale added.