Three young men from the Kanjarbhat community were badly beaten by members of their community’s ‘caste panchayat’ in the city’s Pimpri-Chinchwad area on Sunday night for voicing their opposition to the tribunal’s practice of conducting a bridal ‘virginity test’.A First Information Report (FIR) under Sections 143, 147, 149 (pertaining to rioting and unlawful assembly), Section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), Section 506 (criminal intimidation), and Section 427 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was lodged against 40 persons at the Pimpri Police Station on Monday.Two persons have been arrested so far.The police acted on the complaint of Prashant Indrekar (25), who, along with his cousins Saurabh Machhle and Prashant Tamchikar, was roughed up for opposing the Panchayat’s practices.According to the police, the incident occurred around 11.30 p.m. on Sunday night.“A caste tribunal of the Kanjarbhat community assembled after a community marriage on Sunday night, with the tribunal ‘elders’ decreeing that the bride had to take a virginity test. A number of ‘panchayat’ members vented their ire against Indrekar and his friends, who were present on the occasion, for their campaign on social media speaking out against such practices,” said a senior official at the Pimpri Police Station.A gang of about 40 persons from the community inflicted injuries on the three young men using fists and blunt objects.In December last year, several progressive youth the Kanjarbhat community, including Mr. Indrekar, created a WhatsApp group titled ‘Stop the V-Ritual’ (the ‘V’ standing for virginity), which elicited an enthusiastic response.One of the creators of the group was Vivek Tamchikar, a student at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai (TISS). Their initiative has the backing of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), an organisation that fights superstitious beliefs.The regressive practice of a bridal ‘virginity test’ is rife in the Kanjarbhat community and forcibly imposed through the diktats of illegal caste tribunals. In it, a newly-married couple is generally taken to a hotel room and the groom is given a white bedsheet and asked to use it during consummation of the marriage. If the groom displays a bedsheet with blood stains on it, the bride has ‘passed’ the test. If the bedsheet has no blood stains, the bride is accused by the tribunal of having had sexual relationships in the past.“In many instances, ‘caste panchayat’ members actually sit outside the room during the act of sexual intercourse on the wedding night. It is to put an end to this degrading and demeaning practice and to preserve our dignity that we began this WhatsApp group,” said Mr. Indrekar.On November 25 last year, Siddhant Indrekar (21), a resident of Kanjarbhat Nagar in Yerwada, had lodged a complaint against the ‘caste panchayat’ at the Vishrantwadi police station.“Police are tardy in taking action in such cases despite ample proof of the activities of the ‘caste panchayats’, including demands of money for various rituals. But the police often do not register such cases under the Social Boycott Act [the Maharashtra Protection of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016]. How long must progressive members within such communities pay with their life and security before cases are lodged under the new law?” asked Nandini Jadhav of the MANS.