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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
Woman harnessed 'to till field'
By Faisal Mohammad Ali
BBC News, Bhopal

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A woman in the Indian state of Chattisgarh has been forced to plough a field harnessed alongside a bull.

The move was ordered by village elders who said she had angered the rain god by breaking a taboo on women touching ploughs, thus risking a drought.

Police are investigating the case but have made no arrests and the woman has not asked for charges to be brought.

The belief in the area that a woman will bring bad luck if she touches a plough goes back centuries.

Some residents of the village of Naugain say they saw the woman, 25-year-old Antardeshiya Bai, touching the plough towards the end of August.

There have been no rains in the area since then.

Legal opinion

Village elders then decided that the rain god was angry because of the sacrilegious actions of the woman.

The police have not been able to do much in the case as the woman refuses to file a complaint
AN Upadhayaya, Police Inspector General

They decided that the rain god could be propitiated only if she tilled the land harnessed in a plough.

City police chief Raj Kumar Dewangan told the BBC that the couple seemed to have no option but to obey the order, especially since she was from a minority caste in the village.

Inspector General of Police AN Upadhayaya said "the police have not been able to do much in the case as the woman refuses to file a complaint."

He said the woman was "saying that she obeyed the order of the villagers because she didn't want the place to face a drought".

Police have been seeking legal opinion on whether a formal criminal case could be framed under a law which bans witchcraft and such activities in the state, the police chief said.


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