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NHRC, OHRC seek report on tonsuring of young woman

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau

Malkangiri, May 23:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) have directed Malkangiri police to conduct an inquiry and submit reports on the case in which a young woman had to tonsure her head to get re-entry into her caste fold as per the diktat of the community/caste elders.

Tonsured woman

“The woman and her family have informed in writing that as per the customs and traditions of adivasis, anyone who is excommunicated from his/ her caste for any wrongdoing and desires to get re-admitted into the caste fold is required to obey the decision taken by the community elders in the matter. This is an age old tradition of the adivasi community” said Raj Kishore Das, IIC Malkangiri Thursday at a press meet here.

The woman’s family told media persons that they were not interested in filing any complaint against anyone in the matter.

It may be recalled here that 18 year old Lachma Ambagachia, daughter of Raghunath Ambagachia of Nilimari village in Goudaguda gram panchayat under Malkangiri sadar block had married Pitamber Bhumia of Munusha village in Sindhimal   gram panchayat two years back.

While Pitamber belonged to the Bhumia caste, Lachma was from the Gouda caste. Lachma’s family was excommunicated by the villagers after her marriage to Pitamber, who belonged to a different caste.

Two years after their marriage, Pitamber threw Lachma out of his home. Left with no option, Lachma went to her parents’ home at Nilimari. Her father Raghunath requested community leaders to accommodate his daughter into their caste fold. The community members held a meeting in the village.

Community elders from Nilimari and adjoining villages held a meeting in the village on Friday and got Lachma Ambagachia tonsured. After her father Raghunath threw a feast for the villagers and paid some money as penalty, Lachma re-entered her caste fold.

The incident which was reported in the media drew severe criticism from several quarters and invited intervention by the NHRC and OHRC.