UP couple remarry, face khap anger

Panchayat banishes them from village

The only fault of 50-year old Pratap Kori, a widower, and his 45-year old wife Radha Devi, a widow, was that they fell in love and remarried without realising its consequences.

The couple was publicly humiliated by the members of their community, including their own sons and daughters and later a khap (caste panchayat) declared both of them ‘social outcasts’ and banished them from the village.

Such is the terror of the panchayat’s diktat that the couple from Govindpur village in Uttar Pradesh’s backward and remote Kaushambi district, about 280 kilometers from here, was not getting shelter even in the nearby villages.

According to reports, Radha Devi, who had been married in the neighbouring Pratapgarh district, came back to her village after her husband died around eight years ago. Radha had two grown up daughters.

Pratap, whose wife had died after a protracted illness about four years back, lived in Radha's neighborhood and they frequently visited each other's house. Pratap too had three sons, all grown up.

As both of them were lonely, they developed intimacy gradually and fell in love though they did not disclose this to any one fearing a strong reaction in their families and the community.

The two, however, gathered courage later and married in the court a few days ago.

Vowed punishment

All hell broke loose when the couple came back to the village and announced they were husband and wife. Their families and the community members decried them for re-marrying and vowed to punish them.

A panchayat was convened on Friday which after deliberating the matter ordered to throw them out of the village. No one would continue any relationship with them nor will they be invited in any social gathering, it ruled.

The lovers are undeterred. “I am prepared to die with him and I do not care about the panchayat,” said Radha Devi. Kori, too, vowed to be with her ‘come what may’.

Remarriage wrong

Former village pradhan Kamaruzzma says the couple should not have remarried. “They will be setting a wrong precedent for the young generation”, he said.

The local police say that have no knowledge about the panchayat's diktat.  “We will investigate the matter,” a police official said.

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