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Girl annuls child marriage; panchayat slaps fine

Child marriages

Jodhpur:  A girl’s decision to annul her marriage which was solemnised in her infancy has invited the wrath of the village panchayat which has slapped a hefty fine of Rs 16 lakh and banished the family from the community.

Santadevi Meghwal, belonging to Rohichan Khurd village in Luni tehsil here, decided to call off her marriage which was finalised when she was 11-month-old.

Her decision irked the village panchayat which imposed a fine of Rs 16 lakh on her and banished her family from the community, she claimed.

“My decision (to call off the marriage) incensed my in- laws and they resorted to every tactic to pressurise us to continue with the marriage by issuing varied threats.

“When I did not give in, they (panchayat) slapped a penalty of Rs 16 lakh on us and ostracised my family,” said Santadevi.

The girl, who learnt about her child marriage about three years back, is studying in college and has contacted a trust for legal recourse.

“We are preparing for legal action against the members of the panchayat on the one hand and are also trying to counsel her in-laws to go for marriage annulment,” said Kriti Bharti, Managing Trustee of the Sarathi Trust.

Her father Padmaram, who is a mason, said he wants his daughter to be educated and set an example in society by renouncing “evil social practices”.

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