In the quiet village of Chikhal Dongari, located near Virar in Maharashtra, a recent enforcement of panchayat rules has caused a stir among the locals. The panchayat, responsible for governing the village, has invoked a law known as Niyam Modna, imposing fines ranging from 25,000 to 1 lakh rupees on six residents for alleged violations. The stringent actions taken by the police in implementing these fines have left the community in distress.
Chikhal Dongari has seen significant development over the years, with a proactive community that actively participates in the village’s progress. The village holds a strong influence on the social fabric, and the caste panchayat plays a pivotal role in its existence. The caste panchayat, an autonomous body within the village, has formulated rules and regulations, known as Niyam Modna, which the residents are expected to adhere to. Violation of these rules results in fines ranging from 25,000 to 1 lakh rupees.
The recent controversy revolves around a dispute between the Datta Devasthan Warkari Mandal and the village panchayat in Sasane, located in the Murabad taluka. This disagreement has led to a restriction on Chikhal Dongari residents from visiting Sasane. However, an exception was made for Dipa Vaite, who had gone to serve at the Sasane Gurupith. Despite being exempted, she found herself embroiled in a legal battle with the caste panchayat, leading to a hefty fine of 25,000 rupees and severing ties with her family.
The situation escalated when Dipa’s elder brother, Umesh Vaite, visited Sasane to meet her after her exclusion from the village. Umesh, too, faced a fine from the caste panchayat for not paying the imposed penalty. Consequently, the local temple revoked their access to water, and even their rickshaw was confiscated by the caste panchayat.
Dipa Vaite’s troubles intensified when she was fined over 1 lakh rupees by the panchayat, leading to her exclusion from the village. Despite already paying a hefty sum, the panchayat demanded an additional fine, forcing Dipa to live away from her family. Recently, Meher, Ruchita Meher, and Kavesh Raut, who had visited Sasane, also faced fines of 25,000 rupees each.
In response to the escalating tensions, Umesh Vaite and five others filed a complaint at the Arnala Sagari Police Station against the caste panchayat, alleging harassment and intimidation. The police have registered the complaint but have refrained from taking immediate action. The caste panchayat, on the other hand, denies any wrongdoing and insists that this is an internal matter, emphasizing that the decisions are made collectively and not by any individual.
The situation has caught the attention of the Blind Faith Eradication Committee, which has urged the police to intervene promptly. However, the police remain cautious, emphasizing that the caste panchayat has not been directly accused of any criminal activity. Mukta Dabholkar, representing the committee, has called for an immediate investigation and legal action against those responsible for the fines.
As the controversy continues to unfold, the village of Chikhal Dongari finds itself grappling with internal conflicts that have spilled over into legal battles and police complaints. The community, once known for its progress, is now facing scrutiny for the alleged high-handed actions of the caste panchayat, leaving residents anxious and seeking justice through legal avenues.