Mumbai: Caste panchayat terror returns to Virar’s Chikhal Dongri village

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The tension in Virar’s Chikhal Dongri village, where authorities claimed to have dissolved the oppressive acts of the vile caste panchayat, continues to simmer. The entire village appears to be divided, with sympathisers of the caste panchayat reportedly unleashing violence, verbal abuse, assault, property damage, life threats, taunting, and mental torture in the strife-torn community.

The victims in the village are whistleblowers and their relatives who boldly raised their voices to end the oppressive behaviour of the caste panchayat. However, the local police have been procrastinating on addressing the serious issues methodically, only registering Non-Cognisable (NC) offences to allegedly avoid investigating the crimes, according to the victims.

Harishandra Meher, one of the sympathisers of the panchayat, entered the house of a girl and physically assaulted her. When the girl’s brother rushed to help his sister, he was also assaulted. The girl was also verbally abused. The siblings approached Arnala police and filed an NC on January 1.

The victims have been pressing for the establishment of a police chowkie in the village, but their pleas are falling on deaf ears. After facing harassment, property damage, torture, and public humiliation for courageously speaking out against the illegal practices of the panchayat, one of the whistleblowers has threatened to commit suicide.

“The cops and revenue officials had promised us all help when they visited us in November when the entire village was called to the meeting. But now, whenever we approach the police with our complaints, they register only NCs instead of FIRs to investigate the case,” said Mangala Vaity, one of the whistleblowers.

Another whistleblower, Umesh Vaity, told mid-day that his auto-rickshaw’s windshield was smashed hours after he lodged a complaint with the police for not receiving the money extorted from him by the caste panchayat people last year. “Darshan Ramchandra Meher, and I had submitted a joint complaint before the assistant commissioner of police early this month, requesting his office to help me get back the money extorted from us. The Panch had promised in front of everyone that our money would be returned, but we have not received it so far. Instead, we are being mentally harassed to the point that I see no other option than to commit suicide,” said Umesh Vaity.

His daughter Krupali is studying graphic design in Virar, where she often returns home late. “Since most of the drivers know that my father was the whistleblower, they don’t allow me to board their autorickshaws. I have to walk on foot late in the evening,” Krupali said. “My sister is a nurse in a hospital in Virar. She also faces the same issue. My father is threatening to commit suicide. Who will look after us if anything happens to him?” she added.

Umesh said, “I am a poor fellow. I run an auto-rickshaw to support my family. How will I support my family? Who will bear the loss? Why am I being harassed to this level? Who will help me now? I am being mentally tortured by the sympathisers of the caste panchayat people against whom the FIR was registered in November. But this FIR is of no use, as the police did not arrest a single person, though the case was registered against 17 people.”

Meanwhile, Mangala said, “My husband Kewal is also an auto-rickshaw driver, who was threatened by Prashant Vinod Vaity. Prashant threatened my husband, saying that we all would have to face the dire consequences for speaking against the caste panchayat.” “So, my husband approached Arnala police station and filed an NC against Prashant on February 5. But Prashant continued to threaten my husband. So, we filed another NC against him on February 9,” Mangala said.

“The cops call the accused to the police station in a closed room and tell them to fall in line. And after they come back to the village, they boast, saying that the cops can`t do anything to them,” she added. Meanwhile, Umesh`s daughter Krupali said, “The sympathisers damage any pipeline in the village. And when the villagers ask why the pipeline has been damaged, they direct the villagers to our house to ask us why we spoke against the caste panchayat. And the innocent villagers literally come to us to indulge in verbal fights.”

A senior officer from MBVV police said, “There is no law and order issue in the village. But if people feel that they are being harassed, they can contact us directly. We have been regularly visiting Chikhal Dongri village to take stock of the situation.”

Jan 1
Day girl was assaulted in the village

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