By Taniya Dutta
A six-year-old girl was shunned from her village and forced to stay outside her hut in blazing sun for 11 days in blazing sun – all because she had broken the egg of a ‘sacred’ bird.
Indian youngster Khusboo Regar mistakenly stepped on the egg of Red-Wattled Lapwing bird, while waiting for her turn for free milk in her state-run school on July 2.
Her community, who are Dalits from a village in Bundi, Rajasthan, considers the bird to be the messenger of monsoon and breaking its eggs is seen as a sin.
After the villagers learnt about it a day later, the Khap Panchyat or village council ‘kangaroo court’, known for their eccentric and irrational punishments, convened a meeting and ordered her mother Meena Regar, 30, to not let her enter the house for three days.
They even asked her to not touch the child or feed her and ordered Khusboo to sit and sleep on a cot alone in severe heat outside her hut.
The punishment was extended to 11 days when Khusboo’s father Hukumchand Regar, 35, a daily wage labour, protested against the diktat.
Meena said: “We believe the birds are auspicious and they bring monsoon.
“My daughter had broken the eggs by the mistake, and she was given this punishment.
“It has been now 11 days that she is living outside the house.”
The helpless parents were also asked to distribute snacks to villagers and liquor to the councillors as penalty.
The news of the horrific punishment given to the young child spread like wildfire in neighbouring villages and a reached local humans right activist a week later.
On Wednesday, police were alerted about the incident. They soon reached the spot and free the child and launched an investigation into the case but said when they arrived all the members of the council had ran away.
Nanag Ram, Deputy Superintendent of Police, said: “As soon as we were informed about the incident, we coordinated with local station house officer and sent a team to rescue the girl.
“We have rehabilitated the child and waiting for a case to be registered. As soon as the case is registered we will take strict action against the accused according to the law.
“It is a shocking that a title girl was tortured this way and we will make sure that the culprits get strict punishment for their actions.”
Lapwing birds lay eggs from March to August. The population of the species is unknown in India but it is not threatened. Religious beliefs have helped protect the species.
The villagers who belong to the Dalit community believe the bird is auspicious and to break its eggs warrant punishment and penalty.
After the punishment is over, a celebration takes place where sweets are distributed and the ‘sinner’ is also purified.