| NGO leaders Angela Rangad and Agnes Kharshiing along with the ostracised woman Testiphul Paliar at a news conference in the city on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, Nov. 21: A mother of two, hailing from remote Domshohksoin village in Meghalaya’s West Khasi Hills district, was allegedly ostracised by the dorbar shnong (village council) for changing from one Christian denomination to another.
However, ostracising Testiphul Paliar, 26, was not enough for the Domshohksoin village council.
The victim’s cousin, who lived in another village, accused her of creating trouble in his village after which the village authorities called police to arrest her in September this year.
Such ill-treatment meted out to the helpless woman came to the fore only after she met Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO) president Agnes Kharshiing in Shillong jail last week and narrated the whole episode.
In adherence to the village council’s decision, which was taken on July 2, 2011, Paliar was expelled from her village on July 4, 2011.
“It was found that you have violated rules and regulations of the dorbar shnong and you should leave the village immediately,” the notice said, adding that the dorbar will not allow anyone to bail her out.
Narrating the story to reporters here in the presence of Kharshiing and social activist Angela Rangad, Paliar said she had to face this problem because she changed her faith from the Presbyterian Church to the Christian United Church, although both are Christian denominations.
On July 4, 2011, Paliar had no option but to move out of her village and live at Nongstoin, the district headquarters of West Khasi Hills district, along with her two children, while her aged mother continued to live at Domshohksoin village. Nongstoin is about 94 km from here.
“During a wedding ceremony of my cousin at Mawthir village in September last, my mother took along my two children there. However, on September 28, I was asked to come and pick up my children from the village,” she narrated.
When she reached the village, Paliar said her cousin prevented her from taking along her son, after which she decided to leave Mawthir village for Nongstoin only with her daughter.
“My cousin charged that I was trying to create a ruckus on that day in the village, and they complained against me to the village authorities of Mawthir. On September 30, the Mawthir dorbar shnong summoned me and decided to punish me. They gave three options to my mother: either put me inside a sack before throwing my body elsewhere, killing me or handing me over to police,” the victim said.
Paliar said her helpless mother cried on hearing about the stern punishment and appealed to the village authorities to hand her over to the police should her daughter (Paliar) have done any wrong.
“Later, the village authorities listened to my mother’s plea and policemen from Nongstoin came to arrest me on September 30 without the presence of women police,” Paliar disclosed.
Since then, Paliar has no information about her two children and her aged mother as no one from among her relatives came to visit her in the jail.
Paliar said her mother owns a big plot of land at Mawthir. She suspected that she was ill-treated by her own relatives because they wanted to take away her mother’s property.
The woman, who is unfamiliar with the rule of law, was detained for three days at Nongstoin police station, and a case (number 89 (9) 13 under Section 506 of the IPC) was registered against her.
After three days, she was brought to Shillong jail until her release on bail on November 15, with the help of the CSWO leader.
Paliar said that after she came out of the Shillong jail, she went to Nongstoin and came to know that when she was in jail, her house at Domshohksoin was set ablaze and the whereabouts of her mother and her two children was unknown.
The victim also said that she did not get a copy of the FIR filed against her.
Kharshiing condemned the ill-treatment meted out to Paliar and lodged an FIR with the Meghalaya director-general of police P.J.P. Hanaman here.
“This is a clear violation of human rights and the woman was forcefully separated from her two children. We will lodge a complaint before the National Human Rights Commission,” Kharshiing said.
She also demanded the Meghalaya State Commission for Women take up the matter and the commission should regularly visit jails to know the plight of women, especially those who were wrongly framed and detained.