Pimpri: “Hundreds of men and women from the Kanjarbhat community, on Monday, organised a protest outside the Pune district Collector’s office, Camp, demanding action against some ‘anti-social elements’ who are defaming the community in the name of so-called virginity test of brides. The protest was organised under aegis of ‘Akhil Maharashtra Kanjarbhat Samaj Mahila Kruti Samiti’.
The community members said that British government had made them criminals since birth after enactment of the Criminal Tribes Act. After independence, the government denotified them (vimukt Jati).
“We are a progressive community and encourage girls to study. We have brought several reforms internally. However, neither government, NGOs nor media are aware of our traditions and thus at the instances of few anti-social elements, the whole community has been labelled as those following primitive rules. The girls of our community consider that (virginity) as their ‘Lakshman Rekha’ but people have understood it wrongly,” said Sonia Machhare, who submitted a petition.
A group of youths had earlier with support of some community elders opposed Kaumarya Pariksha (virginity test) of bride. In Kaumarya Pariksha the girl is sent inside the room, after which an elderly woman from the groom’s family takes her ornaments. The same procedure is conducted with the groom. A white cloth is given to the couple to sleep on during the wedding night. Meanwhile, Panchs (elderly) belonging to community sit outside the room. Next day, a Panchayat is organised in which the Panchs question the groom whether the girl is virgin.