New Delhi. It is common to have a fight over money transactions. But both the fighting parties know why one side has to take or give money from the other side. But, for the last 60 years, two tribal families in the Sarakantha district of Gujarat are waging a bloody struggle to recover the fine of Rs 300 imposed on their forefathers. The special thing is that it is not known to anyone at what fault this fine was imposed. The chances of ending this fight are not visible far and wide. Both families have been fined 80 times in the community panchayat for quarreling with each other.
In Temba village of Kheroj, the main reason for the continuation of the strange cycle of fines and quarrels between the Dungri Bhil families is that the tribals do not approach the police to settle their disputes. These people are following the old rule coming from generations and take the matter related to their quarrel to the panch. It is an informal self-governing body of elders belonging to their community. However, the matter reached the police after a medico-legal report was made on the admission of three people from one side to the hospital for treatment due to more injuries in a quarrel over money on last Diwali.
Fine of Rs 300 The root cause of the quarrel
According to a report in The Times of India, little is known about the real reason for the enmity between the two families. In the 1960s, there was a fight with Harkha Rathore’s fellow tribal Jetha Rathore. The punches of the community ruled that Harkha would have to pay Rs 300 as a fine to Jetha’s family. No one knows whether this money was given then or not. To recover this money, the family members of the firstborn attack the members of the Harkha family, and sometimes the Harkha family attacks the firstborn family. This series is going on for the last 60 years.
When there is a fight, the matter goes to the arbitrators. The arbitrator gives the decision to compensate the guilty to the other party. Compound interest is levied on the penalty amount if the due amount is not paid on time. In this way, the amount due for non-payment of fines increases with time. At the same time, for non-payment of the fine, the recipient of the fine also attacks the other party for its recovery.
Rs 25,000 as a penalty
Last Diwali, a Pancha court revealed that Harkha’s family owed Rs 25,000 as a penalty. To recover the dues, the two sons of the firstborn attacked Harkha’s grandson Vinod, his wife Champa, and their son Kanti in January. All three were badly injured in the attack and had to be admitted to the hospital.
The punch system is very strong
A police officer from Kheroj said that it is not only these two families who have accumulated debt for generations. All the tribes of the region follow the Panch system. When there is a quarrel, the arbitrator sits and makes a settlement, and imposes a financial penalty on the guilty. The dispute between Harkha and Jetha’s families finally reached the police, as it became a medico-legal matter and this time even the community elders failed to mediate between the two families.