Uttar Pradesh panchayat forces rapist to marry victim

Lucknow, Oct 22 (IANS) A village council in Uttar Pradesh’s Allahabad district forced a rapist to accept the victim as his wife, police said Thursday.

The panchayat ordered 25-year-old Imtiaz, a resident of Fakrina village in Allahabad, some 200-km from here, to marry the 21 year-old woman whom he had allegedly raped Tuesday night.

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According to locals, the victim’s family members approached the panchayat Wednesday evening. After listening to both sides, the panchayat as a punishment, directed Imtiaz to marry the woman or leave the village along with his family members.

“Initially, Imtiaz, who works as a carpenter, was not willing to marry the woman. However, when the panchayat told him that he would have to pay a fine of Rs.15,000 and leave the village, he agreed to comply with the order,” Kaleem, a local, told reporters.

“Later, a cleric was called and he solemnised the nikah. The panchayat also told the woman that she should feel free to complain about Imtiaz, if she felt he was not taking proper care of her,” Kaleem added.

When contacted, police inspector S.K. Dubey, told IANS: “The matter came to our knowledge this morning. Our team will meet the woman’s family and the victim and ask them whether they want to register a case against Imtiaz.”

Meanwhile, social activists have revealed their disdain for the village council’s orders.

“In my view, the village panchayat has committed a bigger crime than the rapist by marrying him to the victim. It’s inhumane and shameful. How can you expect a rapist husband to take care of the girl as his wife?” Roop Rekha Verma, a prominent social activist and former Lucknow University (LU) vice-chancellor, told IANS.