Minor girls were made to walk naked and beg at locals’ homes at a tribal village in Madhya Pradesh for relief from a drought-like situation and to appease the rain god. Officials said the incident happened in Damoh district on Sunday as part of a ritual.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has sought a report from the Damoh district administration.
A video that has emerged reportedly shows at least six bare-bodied girls of about five years of age walking together with a wooden shaft on their shoulders with a frog tied to it. A group of women is seen singing devotional songs and following the procession.
A report in India Today, the girls visit every household in the village and beg for flour, pulses and staple food cereals. The collected items are then donated for a ‘bhandara’ (community lunch) at the village temple. All residents have to ‘mandatorily’ remain present during the ritual.
In another clipping, some women said the practice would help bring rainfall in the region where the paddy crop is drying. They added they would collect raw food grains from villagers during the procession and then cook food for ‘bhandara’ (community feast) at a local temple.
“We believe that this will bring in rains,” they can be heard telling the person who recorded the incident. The village is located about 50km from the Damoh district headquarter in the rain-starved Bundelkhand region.
Police said the ritual was performed with the consent of families of the young girls. Damoh superintendent of police (SP) DR Teniwar said police came to know about some girls being paraded naked to appease the god as part of local practice and prevailing social evils. “Police are investigating this incident. Action will be taken if it is found that girls were forced to walk naked,” he said.
Damoh collector S Krishna Chaitanya said the local administration will submit a report in this regard to the NCPCR. He said the parents of these girls were also involved in this incident and an awareness campaign would be initiated to explain to the villagers the futility of such practices.
The district collector said none of the villagers complained about this ‘ritual’. “In such cases, the administration can only make the villagers aware about the futility of such superstition and make them understand that such practices don’t yield desired results,” he told reporters.