She was kept tied to a pole for an entire night with no clothes

Nineteen-year-old Seema (name changed) does not step out of her house without her scarf. She is painfully embarrassed to be seen in public. A month ago, she was beaten and stripped by her in-laws. Her long hair was forcibly hacked off with a sickle and scissors. Her new crop, kept carefully hidden, is a reminder of the brutal assault.

On Monday, police arrested her father-in-law Madhukar Patil, mother-in-law Malti Patil and brother-in-law Rohidas Patil.

When The Hindu met Seema, she looked determined and composed. “When we got married, we knew my in-laws were against it. But I never imagined they would go to this extent,” she said. She finally filed a case against them a month after the assault, leading to the arrests.

Seema is a Katkari tribal from Bhiwandi near Mumbai. Her husband Yogesh is a Kunbi from the OBC. The inter-caste marriage was opposed by his parents. On August 30, five months after they secretly wed, his family struck back.

On that day, Yogesh’s family asked him to invite Seema to their house. When they came, the couple were kicked and punched by Yogesh’s parents.

As Yogesh became unconscious, they focused their attack on Seema. Malti Patil and Rohidas stripped off Seema’s clothes and hacked off her hair, as she wept and pleaded.

“I never felt so insulted. I was fighting three of them alone. I shouted but there was no one to help me,” said Seema, showing the wounds on her hands.

Then they tied the couple to a pole outside their house. Seema remained there, with no clothes to cover herself till morning in full view of the villagers. Finally, the village sarpanch came and freed the couple.

Seema did not file a police complaint for a month. “I knew that police won’t help me,” she said. Then she got in touch with NGO Shramjeevi Sanghatana. “She was scared and initially hesitant to file the complaint. We assured her that she would be protected,” said MLA Vivek Pandit from the Sanghatna.

Seema and Yogesh met while working in a godown on the Mumbai-Nashik Highway. They also used to take the bus home together. They fell in love and got married within a month.

“I was sure that my parents would not accept a tribal daughter-in-law but we decided to go ahead with the wedding. I left my house and shifted to her parents’ home,” said Yogesh.

They kept their marriage hidden from Yogesh’s parents but the news reached them from other villagers. The attack came five months after the wedding.

Seema is determined to stay with Yogesh. They have applied for a plot of land to the government where they plan to build a house.

“This has not changed my decision to be with him. We will begin our new life independently,” said Seema.