Eight years ago, a kangaroo court headed by seven village heads ostracised A. Vijaya (now 27) from Jambumadai near Erumapatty for aspiring to marry a boy from another caste. The elders also threatened to ostracise persons who even tried to speak with her.

Her father P. Krishnasamy (52) was ostracised for allowing her to enter his house. Ostracised persons told The Hindu that kangaroo courts and ostracisation have been practised in the village for decades but the first police complaint in this connection was lodged by Krishnasamy with the Erumapatty police in 2004.

“His complaint failed to get a response and his brother P. Govindasamy (40) was also ostracised for accompanying my father to the police station”, Krishnasamy's son Pushparaj (27) said. He lamented that several attempts made by them to get back to their village ended in failure.

Govindasamy, who now lives in Vadugapatti near Namakkal, said that they owned a few acres of agricultural lands in Jambumadai but sold it since fellow villagers were scared. “We now work as farm labourers”, he sadly said.

“Three months ago local police accompanied us and ensured our safety as we took part in the village temple festival for the first time, in isolation”, they said and added that this gave them courage to petition the district administration and the police to put an end to such practices in their hamlet.

They claimed that more than 20 families have been ostracised from that village and about 13 petitions have been individually submitted to the district administration since December 2011 to help them join their dear ones in that hamlet. In response to the petitions, a peace committee meeting was chaired by the Revenue Division Officer at Jambumadai on January 24.

During the meeting, the villagers allegedly instigated by the kangaroo court heads, attacked the ostracised persons. While police escorted them to safety, some of them who sustained injuries were hospitalised. “A First Information Report (FIR) booked on the heads of the court for this attack was our first success in the fight against the evil practices”, said M. Dhanapal (32), a villager.

He has been fighting for the ostracised persons for the last few years and is the latest in the list of ostracised persons. “My wife and children are among the three other families in which the husband alone has been ostracised, as they are still in the village”, he said. Superintendent of Police (SP) M. Sathiya Priya told The Hindu that earlier this week, she received a petition on these issues and will be visiting the hamlet in a week's time.

“I will interact with the affected persons and villagers, study the issues there and work out an amicable solution”, she assured.