A major atrocity was averted in Telangana’s Jagtial district after a 19-year-old woman was rescued by the local police from being tonsured, garlanded with slippers and paraded around the village with pig’s blood smeared on her, as part of a ‘cleansing ritual’. The ‘ritual’ to accept her back into her community was to atone for her transgression of being in a relationship with a man from another caste,
However, moments before the barbarity, the police intervened and stopped it after a local tipped them off. The incident took place on Friday. However, it came to light after a Telugu news channel reported about it.
According to the police, the woman Sandhya* is a resident of Bheema Gudem village, a tribal hamlet, belonging to Nayakapodu caste, which categorised as Scheduled Tribe (ST). She was in a relationship with one Vinay, from the neighbouring village, who belonged to the Scheduled Caste Mala community, the police added.
In May, when the couple met at a secluded place in Bheema Gudem, a few locals noticed it and thrashed them. They also allegedly intimidated her to file a rape case against him. According to the police, she was slut-shamed and ostracised. Unable to take the harassment of locals, Sandhya left the village and stayed at her relative’s place, while her partner was serving imprisonment after a rape case was filed against him.
Five months after the incident, Sandhya returned to her house recently in October. However, village elders objected to her entry into the village as she had ‘defiled’ their community. The hamlet chieftain and a few others held a meeting with the woman's father, Yerraiah. They unanimously passed a diktat that if his daughter had to be accepted back into their community, Yerriah had to pay Rs 26,000 cash as fine, buy a pig, chicken and a goat.
To set an example for anyone daring to disobey them, the village members said that the woman had to be tonsured, garlanded with slippers and paraded around the village with pig’s blood on her, the police said. This ‘ritual’ was to take place at 7 pm. But a local passed this information on to the police, who stopped the horrific act and rescued the woman.
Speaking to TNM, Sarangpur SI S Rajaiah said, “The barber was ready with his kit when we had arrived at the village. Had we been five minutes late, the woman would have been tonsured.”
Rescuing the woman was no easy task, says Rajaiah, who went with two constables for the rescue mission. “All the 300 villagers had gathered to see the spectacle. They were hostile and asked us not to intervene in their ‘customs’ and ‘rituals’. I told them that it is unlawful but they wouldn’t pay heed. After convincing them for nearly an hour, they finally allowed us to rescue the woman.”
The police then sent the woman to a welfare home in Karimnagar the same evening.
Counselling the locals
Besides rescuing the woman, the police have filed cases against Bucchi Mallaiah, Venkata Narsaiah, Pochaiah and others under Protection of Civil Rights Act and extortion.
Jagtial Superintendent of Police Sindhu Sharma said that they have also counselled the villagers against such barbaric practices.
“After rescuing the victim, we counselled the locals against exercising or practising such brutalities and to not interfere in the personal matters of two consenting adults,” she told TNM.