After village court allows live-in, woman, stepson forced to leave village

A 22-year-old woman and her stepson of the same age, who were allowed by a village court to live as a couple, have left their home in Bihar's Buxar district after threats of social boycott, police said Monday.

Poonam Devi, a mother of two, and Vikas Paswan, her stepson, were forced to leave Bhatuali village after Poonam's husband Jawahar Paswan disowned them and declared that they had no place in his house.

Jawahar Paswan, 52, who was shocked when his son decided to live with his stepmother, announced in the presence of villagers that he would not allow his second wife to live with his son from his first wife as a couple.

"I'm against it and have decided not to tolerate such immoral relationship because it will damage my image," Jawahar said.

Jawahar Paswan, who married Poonam after the death of his wife eight years ago, also managed to mobilise villagers' support to ostracise the two if they continued to live in the village, located around 125 km from here. 

"The villagers favoured my stand and provided moral support to me to declare that Poonam and Vikas will not get any share in my property," he said.

Ramlakhan Paswan, a villager, said they had openly told Poonam and Vikas to leave village or face social boycott.

"We told them politely to leave the village or be ready to face social boycott," Ramlakhan Paswan said.

Another villager, Satender Singh, said Poonam and Vikas's relationship was illegal and society would not accept them.

"We have made it clear to them that they will not be allowed to live in the village," Singh said.

However, around a week ago, a 'gram kachahari' (village court) had allowed Poonam and Vikas to live as a couple after Jawahar Paswan approached the 'sarpanch' (village head) and said his wife was neglecting him since she had developed an illicit relationship with his son from his first wife.

A gram kachahari is a judicial body under the Bihar Panchayati Raj Act, 2006, with powers of a civil court at the panchayat level.

Bhatuali sarpanch Malti Singh Yadav said Poonam told her she would prefer to die rather than leave Vikas.

"The court decided in their favour in view of this," Yadav said.

But after Jawahar Paswan's diktat, Vikas, Poonam and her two children left the village Sunday.

"Poonam told villagers that they will settle anywhere in the world but not end their relationship," a police official said.

Vikas said they would move to Jamshedpur in Jharkhand where he worked in a private firm.

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