Image Courtesy: News18
Fined for their inter-sect marriage, a Dalit couple in Tamil Nadu’s Thirupathur district were denied entry into the temple by a ‘khap panchayat’, reported Yahoo News.
Kanagaraj and his spouse Jayapriya were kept from entering the village temple where festival activities were to take place at the time. Khap panchayat members demanded that the two individuals pay a fine of Rs. 2.5 lakhs for choosing to marry outside their sect.
“Paying fines for marrying outside caste is common in our village. Usually, the amount is about Rs 5,000-10,000. However, for us it’s 2.5 lakhs. I was ready to pay Rs 25,000, but they didn’t take it. Now, I refuse to pay any fine… The khap panchayat was held twice since we returned and the heads insisted that we pay the fine,” Kanagaraj told Yahoo News.
Scheduled Caste community members Kanagaraj and Jayapriya belong to the Muracha Parayar and Thamana Paraya sects respectively. The couple eloped in Pullur village after Jayapriya’s parents opposed their relationship. They got married in January 2018 in Chennai.
Following the persistent demand for the fine, Kanagaraj filed a complaint at the Thimampettai police station. Khap panchayat Heads Ellappan and Nagesh agreed to withdraw the fine during the enquiry. However, they continued to demand the payment from the couple, alleged Kanagaraj.
However, Ellappan denied all allegations. He claimed that panchayat had not levied a fine except for a fine of Rs. 500 for causing disruption in the village. Ellappan said there were quarrels between the two families since they had married without their parents’ consent.
Last week, Kanagaraj’s father-in-law was allegedly attacked by Ellappan and his men during a temple function. Kanagaraj filed a complaint with local police and registered an FIR. In turn, Ellappan also filed complaints against Kanagaraj and his family members.
Regarding this, the Thirupathur Superintendent of Police Vijayakumar said police do not have a pending complaint about the imposition of fine and said there was no transaction of money between the two groups.
“There are complaints from both groups about the subsequent quarrel during a temple rally. We have filed FIRs on both sides. Two months back we remanded two people in a nearby village where similar fines were imposed. Therefore, if there is a complaint we will take due action on it,” Vijayakumar said to the news organisation.
A driver by profession, Kanagaraj lost his job during the COVID-19 lockdown in Chennai. He returned to his wife who continued to live in the village.