A village panchayat in Amgaon tehsil of Maharashtra's Gondia district imposed a fine of Rs 21,000 on a farmer for damaging the stone idol of a local deity while carrying out land levelling work at his farm, and also issued a threat that he would face social boycott if he failed to pay the amount, police said on Friday.
The farmer, however, defied the diktat and lodged a complaint, following which a case was registered on June 16 against the village sarpanch and eight others in this connection, an official said.
"The farmer, Tikaram Pritam Pardhi, a resident of Seetepaar village of Amgaon tehsil was carrying out the land levelling work at his farm on June 12, during which a stone idol of a deity got damaged accidentally," Amgaon police station inspector Vilas Nale said.
The villagers believe that the deity is their 'kul devta' (clan deity), he said, adding that on getting information about the incident, villagers reached the spot and forced Pardhi to stop the work.
"Later, a meeting of panchayat was convened, in which its members accused Pardhi of hurting the religious sentiments of the local residents, and imposed a fine of Rs 21,000 on him," the official said.
In his complaint, Pardhi said the panchayat also ruled that if he failed to pay the fine amount, he would face social boycott, Nale added.
According to police, the panchayat told him that the fine amount would be utilised for the construction of the damaged idol and for animal sacrifice to "appease" the deity.
But Pardhi expressed his inability to pay the money saying that his financial condition is bad and claimed innocence in the episode. Later, he approached the police and lodged a complaint.
Based on the complaint, village sarpanch Gopal Fulichand Meshram, police patil ((village-level police assistant) Ulhasrao Bhaiyalal Bisen, Rajendra Hiwarlal Bisen, Puranlal Bisen, Yogesh Hiralal Bisen, Yadavrao Shriram Bisen, Pratap Lakhan Bisen, Sudhir Hiralal Bisen and Tekchand Dadiram Madavi were booked under various sections of the Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016.
Notices have been issued to all the accused, Nale said.
Sarpanch Meshram said that as per the local tradition, the villagers begin the new crop season every year by worshipping the idol, which got damaged. The amount that Pardhi was asked to pay was meant for the repair of the idol and construction of the small temple-like structure.