Administration in Guna district of Madhya Pradesh has had to admit a five-year-old girl to a government hospital to prevent her from being married off. Her mother had approached them for help a fortnight ago after the community panchayat in Taharpur village ordered the child to be married off on the Hindu auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya on April 29. The order came as a result of an attempt to redeem the child’s father of the ‘sin’ of killing a calf.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the block woman empowerment officer, Atiraj Singh Sengar, got the child admitted to the nutritional rehabilitation centre at the government hospital in Aaron, 2o kilometres away from the village, on Friday.
“The villagers could have put pressure on Jagdish’s family. So I moved the parents to Aaron and got the daughter admitted for a check-up. Tomorrow I will take the trio to a rest house, and take them back to the village after a couple of days,” Sengar told the paper on phone.
Sengar had been asked to keep the family and the village under her watch after Gitabai, the child’s mother, approached the district administration on April 14. After Gitabai’s complaint, a team of officials had visited the village and asked Bhagbai, the woman Anganwadi worker in the village, to visit the family daily. Officials had also made Jagdish Banjara (35), the child’s father, Lallan Banjara, the would-be groom’s father, and two senior panchayat members sign a bond of Rs 20,000 each. The bond’s violation would have allowed the police to take action against the person to prevent ‘breach of peace’.
Bhagbai confirmed Friday’s developments to The Indian Express.
A community panchayat (not a gram panchayat) was convened in the village four months ago after Gitabai spoke to fellow villagers about the death of the calf. Three years ago, Jagdish Banjara had hit a calf with a stone to scare away cattle threatening his crop. The calf had later died.
Calling the act a ‘sin’, the panchayat had slapped several sanctions on the family. “I sacrificed a goat, threw a feast of malpuva, and offered two peti (crates) of liquor — all this cost me a lot. Yet, they were not done,” Jagdish told The Indian Express last week.
According to a PTI report, the panchayat allegedly said that the marriage must be organised because youth in the village were not able to solemnise their marriages due to the calf’s death. A few months ago, the child was engaged to an eight-year-old from a poor, landless family from Vidisha district.
After Gitabai approached the police, the family has been boycotted by the entire village.