Pune: A 19-year-old law student from Pune has filed a criminal writ petition in Bombay High Court against her parents – who have allegedly threatened to kill her for having a romantic relationship with a boy from a lower caste. On May 7, the High Court directed Maharashtra government to provide security to her. The Court also asked the girl to lodge a complaint at the local police station against her parents.
Priyanka Santosh Shete, a second year LLB student from Maratha caste from Pune
is in a romantic relationship with Viraj Avaghade, a 19-year-old business management student, belonging to the Matang community, a Scheduled Caste in the state.
Her father, Santosh (43), who runs his own business at Umbare Navlakh, a village in Pune district, and mother Yogita who is Anganwadi worker, came to know about the relationship of their daughter in February. The family, which is economically well off, reportedly disapproved of the relationship, as Avaghade is from lower caste and comes from a poor family. However, their attempts at convincing Priyanka to end her relationship with Viraj were in vain.
Priyanka, who studies at Modern Law College, Ganesh Khind, Pune, said, “I fell in love with Viraj after I joined the college. My parents started harassing and abusing me regularly. They repeatedly kept asking me to end my relationship. Unable to bear this torture, I tried to commit suicide by consuming medicines in large quantity on February 26, 2019 and was admitted for treatment at Pavana Hospital in Pune on the same day.”
The matter was referred to Talegaon police station as a medico-legal case.
Shete said, “I was discharged from the hospital on March 2, 2019. On March 22, 2019, my uncle Dattatray Bandu Shete, an advocate, who carries arms illgeally, put a handmade katta (gun) on my head and threatened to kill Viraj as well if we continue this relationship. I have been staying in fear since that day.”
According to Shete, her parents also tried to force her to lodge a false complaint against Viraj for abusing and molesting her, but she refused to do so.
“My parents took out my mobile phone, and they did not allow me to go to college. I was confined at home for one and a half months. They were taking me somewhere in Tamil Nadu by train on April 27. I could sense something fishy, and somehow managed to run away. I immediately contacted Viraj who put me up at his uncle’s house. But I am scared that my family will harm me or Viraj or his family. I went to MIDC Talegoan Dabhade police, but they did not register my complaint on that day.”
Shete told NewsClick that her parents have been trying to trace her ever since she escaped, and have threatened to file a complaint against Avaghade for abduction and rape if she does not return.
“I am an adult and I have right to choose my partner. I am going to marry him once he turns 21.
What is wrong with having a relationship with a boy from lower caste? I don’t find him any different. He is caring and loving,” she said.
On May 3, with the help of advocate Nitin Satpute, Shete filed the criminal writ petition in the High Court against her parents, uncle and also MIDC Talegoan Dabhade Police.
She claimed that her family is still following her. She said, “I saw them near the High Court on both the days – on May 3 when I filed the petition, and also yesterday, when it was heard for the first time.”
Shete is now relived as the court has directed the state government to provide security to her. She said, “Judge has also asked me lodge a complaint. The police will have to take action against my parents now. I also want them to confiscate the illegal weapons from my uncle. And there should be security for Viraj’s relatives as well.”
Viraj’s uncle, who runs a dance studio and has been supporting the couple, says he is scared that her parents might harm him. But he is firm that he would protect both of them.
Shete has not been able to go to college, but after the high court order, she is hopeful that her normal life will resume soon.
Recently, in an episode of violence against inter-caste marriage, a couple was set on fire in Ahmednagar, allegedly by the girl’s father. Nineteen-year-old Rukmini Ransing, who was two-months pregnant, has succumbed to her injuries, while the husband is in a critical condition.
Also watch: 'Untouchable' Love: An Account on the Rise of Honour Killings in Tamil Nadu