The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to provide protection to a Pune woman who has expressed fear of a violent backlash from her family for being in a relationship with a man from the scheduled caste community.
Priyanka Shete (19) sought protection under Article 21 of the Constitution, which assures personal liberty to every citizen, because her family was opposed to their relationship. She claimed that she was under constant pressure from her parents, and an uncle had even threatened to shoot her as well as her boyfriend, Viraj Awaghade, on March 22.
Advocate Nitin Satpute, who represented the woman in court, said that the police did not make arrangements for her security despite receiving a request. "What we see here is a clear violation of the Supreme Court's order in the Lata Singh vs State of Uttar Pradesh case. In any situation where a couple comes under threat for planning an inter-caste marriage, it is the duty of the state to protect their lives. Nobody can stop their marriage. In fact, the government offers ₹50,000 for inter-caste marriages, especially if the groom belongs to the lower caste. But the police here seemed least bothered to protect this couple, forcing us to approach the court," he told NDTV.
Although police claimed during the hearing that they weren't approached, the petitioner argued that a written complaint submitted at the local police station had received no response.
Cases of honour killing and caste-related violence are not alien to Maharashtra. Earlier this month, Mangesh Ransing (23) and Rukmini (19) were allegedly set afire by the woman's father and two uncles in Ahmednagar's Nighoj village because they had defied caste considerations to get married. While Rukmini died in a hospital, her husband in still battling for his life in a hospital.
In April, a 21-year-old man from a scheduled caste community was allegedly beaten to death by upper-caste men for having his dinner seated on a chair at a wedding in Tehri Garhwal district's Shrikot area. Jitendra Das, a carpenter, was the sole breadwinner in his family.