First dowry then 'Agnipariksha'; woman asked to hold iron rods to prove 'chastity'

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Indore, July 24: As if dowry deaths and rape cases were not enough, the village panchayats are now calling for 'Agnipariksha' to prove its women's chastity. The victim belongs to the Kanjar Community and was married in 2007. A few years after her marriage, she was started being abused physically and mentally by her mother-in-law and husband for dowry of Rs 2 Lakh.

When that did not suffice, they raised fingers at her integrity asking her to undergo an 'Agnipariksha' in front of the community to stay with her husband. When she and her parents refused to give the 'character test', the panchayat asked the entire village to boycott them socially. The complainant said that she and her family were socially boycotted since February and nobody invited them for any function nor came to her parent's house.

Under pressure, she had to take the test and was asked to hold hot iron rods with bare palms on top of which leaves coated with oil was kept, said aher lawyer Santosh Khoware told PTI in Indore on Wednesday.

The case was registered under Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the woman's husband, mother-in-law and their two close relatives, the complainant's lawyer said.

However, Shashi Khatabia, the MP Kanjar community's Madhya Pradesh termed the allegations baseless and hollowed. She further claimed that practices like "agnipariksha" were already "a thing of the past" and such traditions had "no relevance" in "modern" society.

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