Bizarre Customs: Tribal Homes in South Rajasthan Ravaged by Looting as Chadhotara Tradition Turns Violent

Tribal Homes in Rajasthan
Tribal Homes in Rajasthan

Rajasthan— In the tribes of Rajasthan, there is a tradition called Mautana-Chadhotra. Unfortunately, this tradition has led to violence, loot, and homes being ransacked, leaving people suffering and without a place to live.

One such tragedy has been reported from Lambahaldu village in Kotra block, a remote settlement in Udaipur, Rajasthan, where the majority of people belong to tribal communities.

Because of this tradition, in a recent incident, few families have become homeless after a murder took place. The houses of the accused were attacked and looted. To make matters worse, the affected families are being denied the right to live in the area. As a result, many families have had to seek shelter with their relatives, scattered and displaced.

All of these incidents stem from a murder case. The incident happened in a village called Lambahaldu, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Kotra police station.

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A 40-year-old man Roopa son of Karma Gamar, was murdered on March 5. The murderers were his cousins, Prakash and Tejaram, who are the sons of Hariya and also residents of Lambahaldu. The murder happened during an argument over a long-standing land issue between the cousins. The accused attacked Roopa with sticks, leading to his death. The police arrested Tejaram and Ramprakash, on March 8 who are in jail. However, with the prevalent bad practice of Mautana ( compensation for death) the accused kin and family members have been facing difficult times.

Victims seek police intervention

Four separate reports have been filed by person's including three women who have sought help from the police. These reports describe incidents of looting and assault involving 77 people.

The complainants are Haldi Bai, Mahudi Devi, Sajuri, and Fauja Gamar. They said in their reports that many innocent people are bearing the burden and being punished for the actions of the murderers. These incidents occurred on different occasions.

According to the reports, Haldi Bai explains that a group of 33 armed individuals attacked her house. They stole various things like jewelry, goats, chickens, cattle, grains, household items, and even important documents.

Mahudi Devi's account states that 13 people arrived in jeeps and tractors and looted the grain, cattle, gold ornaments, and other belongings. Luckily, her family managed to escape with their lives. They are now being denied permission to live in their own homes.

Sajuri Devi's report mentions that a group of 20 people attacked them, looting their jewelry, grain, barrels, oxen, chickens, and other items. They also stole various things from a relative Bhaga Gamar's house, including cement sheets, bags, doors, windows, and grain.

According to Banshilal's report, 12 individuals looted his wheat and maize stock, cots, jewelry, iron sheets, and even vandalized the house. They also stole grain, goats, cows, and other possessions from another home.

Meanwhile, SHO Kotra police station, Ram Singh said that there were two suspects involved in the murder case who have been arrested, and a charge sheet has also been filed. Now, the families of the accused persons have come forward with complaints of assault. Both parties were brought face-to-face and peace talks are being held. Mediation is underway.

The Bizarre Custom: Mautana & Chadhotra

It is a custom followed in certain regions of Rajasthan where disputes are resolved under the jurisdiction of local Panchayats (village councils), without the involvement of the police or formal legal system. However, it may sound strange to hear, but it still happens in tribal settlements of Southern Rajasthan.

Under the Mautana practice, when someone dies, the alleged guilty party's family can be compelled to pay compensation ranging up to several lakh rupees.

For example, if a pregnant woman dies for any reason, her husband can be held responsible for the miscarriage and be demanded compensation from the woman's relatives, as he is considered responsible for the well-being of his wife. The cremation is not held until the compensation is settled. Many times villagers keep body for days which is quite a inhuman practice.

In cases where a person is suspected of having committed murder, he would be asked for a predetermined compensation amount to be set free. Failure to pay compensation can lead to the burning down of the offender's house.

If the predetermined compensation is not paid as decided by the panchayat, it is possible that the opposing party may declare an attack on the village which is known as Chadhotra.

There have been instances where several houses have been burnt down or people have been forced to leave the village.

In some cases, even the accused person's relatives have to pay compensation.

The practice of Mautaana is not legally recognized or endorsed by the government. It operates outside the formal legal framework and is a form of informal dispute resolution.

The practice has faced criticism for its potential for misuse, violation of human rights, and lack of legal safeguards. Efforts have been made by authorities and civil society organizations to discourage and eliminate such practices and promote the rule of law in the region.

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