A 27-year-old man from Keonjhar of Odisha was imposed a fine of ₹ 25 lakh by a kangaroo court of his village after he married a girl from another tribe and brought her home. However, unable to pay, the couple left the village and is now living with their uncle in another place.
Maheswar Baske, a youth from Santhal tribe, married Somabari from Nagadihi village around six months ago. His bride belongs to another caste. After their marriage, the couple spent some days outside but returned to Maheswar's ancestral village on July 27.
However, villagers of Nialijharan objected to the fact that Baske, a daily wage earner, had married outside of his tribe and hence cannot reside in the village. Though he clarified that his wife also is tribal and they married with mutual consent, the villagers did not listen to him. But when they were forced to return home following the COVID- induced lockdown and the corresponding job loss Baske suffered, he was handed down some serious punishment that included a penalty of ₹25.6 lakh.
Ostracised By Villagers
With limited means, Baske was unable to pay the fine following which he was banished from the village and got ostracised from his own community along with his wife and old mother. He now lives at his uncle's home outside the village and has been barred from even sharing water with his village folks. Bhaske said that everybody in the village has been directed to not help him under any circumstances.
Fine Imposed On Various Heads
A kangaroo court of the village met and fined Baske. The fine amount was calculated on various heads. If the couple did not pay up, the village heads allegedly said that they would not be allowed to attend any social, religious or other functions of the village.
Last year, the Odisha government launched the Sumangal portal to promote inter-caste marriages under which inter-caste couples get an incentive within 60 days of application. However, it covers marriages between caste Hindus and the scheduled caste.