Bihar: In a weird decision, panchayat in Muzaffarpur asks woman to ‘sell’ baby.

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A panchayat in Bihar has allegedly accused a pregnant 15-year-old girl for her being raped and ordered the baby to be sold off and the money handed to her as “compensation”. She had accused two men of repeatedly raping her.

The alleged ruling of Community panchayat at Muzaffarpur’s Katra surfaced after the girl, mustered the courage to approach the police. The 15-year-old is the daughter of a labourer.

A first information report (FIR) has been registered at Muzaffarpur’s all-women police station and raids are being conducted to arrest the accused: Maulana Maqbool and Muhammad Shoaib.

According to a report in The Telegraph, Muhammad Sadre, a member of the Katra Masjid Committee said, “The issue had been raging in our community panchayat since the beginning of this year when the minor girl sought justice from it for being raped.”

“She gave birth to a child last month. However, our panchayat held her responsible for her plight. It ordered that the baby be sold off and the money received given to her.”

“As far as I know, negotiations were held with a family in Tajpur, in nearby Samastipur district, and the baby was to be sold to them for ₹1 lakh. I could not intervene and don’t know whether the baby has been sold,” he said.

Mukhiya of the elected Katra panchayat, Arun Kumar has said that the girl had approached him to intervene and secure justice for her.

“I told her that such crimes cannot be settled by a panchayat and advised her to go to the police. I also told her where she could get an application written for the police,” Kumar said.

“However, she chose to approach the mosque committee, which held its own panchayat a couple of times to settle the issue,” he added.

Mukhiya had no clear answer why he had not taken the girl to the police himself.

After Katra panchayat blamed her and ordered the baby to be sold, the teenage girl approached the local police, who directed her to the district women’s police station.

According to the report in the Telegraph, an officer at the women’s police station said that various families of Katra used to send food to Maulana Maqbool, who stayed at the local mosque. Sometimes the families sent the girl to deliver food to him.

The official at the police station alleged that one day Maqbool gave her some drug-laced sweets and raped her after she passed out.

“Her ordeal continued for around two months. The accused blackmailed her and threatened to kill her. Later, a local youth, Shoaib, came to know about the situation and he too started raping her.”

Savita Devi, the officer in charge of the women’s police station, said the girl had “come to us when all the other doors had been shut to her”.

“We have registered a case under the relevant penal code sections and also under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act,” she said.

“We raided the village thrice but could not find the accused. We will put up posters about the accused.”

Senior officers said a DNA test was being considered to identify the biological father of the newborn.