An objection raised by a caste panchayat over performing havan during a marriage ceremony has led to the cancellation of the wedding in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur district. Despite the groom approaching the police, the authorities are yet to register an FIR against the community leaders.

Mangalsingh Kamble (31) of Kanjarbhat community was scheduled to marry on June 15 in Ichalkaranji town of Kolhapur district. Several panchs of the community’s panchayat, who were present at the wedding, fined Mr. Kamble Rs.140 for performing havan during the ceremony. Mr. Kamble belongs to the Nomadic Tribes (NT) category.

“They told me that this is not allowed as per community’s rituals. But I refused to budge as their act was illegal,” Mr. Kamble told The Hindu. As a result the community leaders slapped a fine of Rs. 50,000 on the family and since he refused to pay, Mr. Kamble was ex-communicated.

They pressed the girl’s family and threatened them with a social boycott, Mr. Kamble said, stressing that his opposition was on a point of principle. “We have a constitution which gives us certain rights. Caste panchayats are absolutely illegal and still order us around. I will not bow down in front of them,” he said.

“He is a liar. We didn’t fine him, but asked him to pay extra fee since he performed havan, as it is not in our tradition,” said Lalsingh Mathre, one of the community leaders, who was present during the wedding. Mr. Mathre claimed that the groom tried to attack him with a knife and as a result they decided not to send the girl with him.

When asked why no police complaint has been filed despite the knife attack, he said that the community wanted to give a second chance to Mr. Kamble. “But he is going to media and defaming us. Now we will teach him a lesson,” he said.

As the local police refused to register a complaint, terming it a “small dispute” within the community, Mr. Kamble approached various NGOs and organisations working against caste panchayats in Maharashtra.

“We are still investigating since there are claims and counter-claims. We will register the case, once we come to some conclusion,” said Dr. Manoj Sharma, Superintendent of Police, Kolhapur.