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Groups demand release of 6 men held for flogging woman

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‘Their arrest for disciplining a clan member is against a traditional practice and disrespects customary laws’

TURA, July 5: Several organisations from the Garo Hills such as the FKJGP, ADE, FAF, GSU, CEC, and AYWO have sought the intervention of the GHADC’s Chief Executive Member Albinush Marak for the release of six people arrested for thrashing a woman.
A video of some people from Teksragre village in West Garo Hills publicly assaulting a woman related to them went viral on social media. Outrage over the video led to their arrest.
The assaulters, who happen to be Chras (elders), continue to be in police custody.
“The arrested persons are relatives of the purported victim, and as concerned citizens, we verified the facts. We were informed that the purported victim had been leading an immoral life and village Nokma received a complaint against her for the fourth time (before the assault). The family members had taken the step to discipline their kin (victim) by thrashing her for bringing shame and dishonour to her own family repeatedly and also for causing mental pain and agony to the members of the offended families,” the groups said.
In a memorandum to Marak, they pointed out that such a corrective act is common among the Garo people and the Chras can choose to use it in the case of a female relative while Ma’drangs can do so in the case of a male offender in the family.
They said the customary law of the Garos allow the disciplining of male or female members of a clan separately or together and dissuade them from repeating the “unacceptable” social wrongs.
The groups termed the arrest of the six elders as an interference of the state authorities in matters relating to tradition, culture, customs, and laws of the A’chik people living in areas under the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council. They reminded Marak that the practices are protected under paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
The groups also said the Constitution recognises the culture of all citizens under Article 29(1) and empowers citizens with a distinct culture, language, or script to conserve their culture, language, or script. They urged the GHADC chief to convey to the Meghalaya government not to encroach upon the jurisdiction of the council and direct the state authorities to respect the traditions and practices of the land.
The groups also said the police should consult the village authorities, specifically the Nokma or Sordar or headman, before taking any action in cases where customary laws and practices are involved.
Demanding the immediate release of the six arrested persons, the groups said the Chras should be compensated for “illegal detention”, “dishonour”, and the “disrespect” of their customary rights.

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