While the Union government has approved the increase in reservation for women in Panchayats from 33 per cent to 50 per cent, feudalism continues to get the better of women in the remote parts of Madhya Pradesh.

Two Dalit women sarpanches of the Bundelkhand region have been forced to move out of their villages due to constant threats and oppression from people of upper castes.

Feudal social structure

Bundelkhand is infamous for its highly discriminatory and feudal social structure.

Gundiya Bai Ahirwar (40), sarpanch of the Vikrampura village of the Badamahalra block in Chhatarpur district, has been living out of the village for the past four years.

She was elected sarpanch from Vikrampura, which is a general seat. This earned her the wrath of upper castes.

She and her family have repeatedly been threatened and beaten up by them and forced to live out of the village.

Threats and abuse

Similarly, Premrani Prajapati (35), who was elected sarpanch from the reserved Chandwara village seat of Gaurihaar block in the same district, has faced threats and abuse from powerful village groups.

Premrani’s husband Gulabchand and her children were beaten up in their house, following which they had to move to Baarigarh village.

Not to contest

Both women have decided not to ever contest the village election again.

The Chhatarpur Superintendent of Police and Collector were unavailable for comment even after repeated attempts to contact them.