The Indian Journal of Social Work, Vol. XX, No. 1 (June 1959). ABUSES,...
The Indian Journal of Social Work, Vol. XX, No. 1 (June 1959).
ABUSES, IMPUTATIONS, AND SOCIAL OSTRACISM AS FACTORS OF
DR. Y. S. MEHENDALE
Dr. Mehendale whose papers have appeared in our previous numbers shows in the
following lines how normal persons are actuated to commit anti-social acts.
T h e author is attached to the Department of Sociology, University of Poona.
Among things which man values as desirable criminality. Among provocative abuses
are reputation and self-esteem. They have not mention must be made of such abuses as are
only a personal value but a social value as well. connected with, or referred to, one's own
A man of disrepute is looked down upon and mother, sister, or wife, implying dishonour to
held low in social status by the members of his the individual or his family, or, are intended
own caste and society. This may explain why to express deep and implacable enmity against
even the slightest injury to one's reputation him or his family. The following cases
and self-esteem is bound to arouse the most illustrate how murders may arise from abuses
passionate feelings of indignation, especially of this kind:
among those persons who are very susceptible
Arsallakhan, a 20-year-old Mohammedan
to their sense of honour and dignity.
lad murdered Sher Ahmed on March 2, 1931,
Injury to reputation and self-esteem may be in the street adjacent to the Grand Hotel on
caused by various modes of expression and of the Ballard Estate, Bombay.
social conduct. Those which are met with in
Sher Ahmed was a watchman at the Grand
this study are: abuses, imputations, and social Hotel. He knew Arsallakhan. There arose a
ostracism, which served as a direct actuating quarrel between Arsallakhan and another
motive in eight cases of murder, four of watchman at the Grand Hotel. In that
homicide, and 13 of hurt as illustrated below. quarrel Sher Ahmed intervened and called
It is worth noting that even the fear of loss Arsallakhan.... * This enraged Arsallakhan
of reputation and self-esteem may occur as a and he suddenly whipped out a knife and
motive for committing anti-social acts. This stabbed Sher Ahmed to death.
motive was evident in nine cases of conceal-
ment of birth by secret disposal of body
Another case relates to Mubarak Masud.
(Section 318 I.P.C.).
He was a 21-year-old lad working as waiter in
a restaurant run by Khansaheb at the Satara
—Abuses are habitually employed motor stand. Mubarak's victim was Gulab
by the rural people in their day-to-day Balabhai, a motor driver and a customer of
conversation. It may seem to be very strange Khansaheb. In the evening of June 7, 1938,
that because of abuses which are so common, Gulab Balabhai visited the restaurant and
a man should feel so annoyed with the person asked Mubarak to serve some food to his
who abuses that he should actually go with a cleaner. Thinking that Gulab was asking for
stick or an axe and strike him so violently as food to be supplied on credit, Mubarak told
to kill him.
him that Khansaheb was out and he boldly
But certain abuses, on certain occasions, refused to serve it. However, Khansaheb was
prove to be so provocative as to evoke violent really inside the restaurant, sitting behind a
*A Slang word which reflects badly on the honour of one's mother.
D R . Y. S. MEHENDALE
curtain. Gulab popped in and saw Khansaheb. absent in this case. The facts disclose a desire
He got angry and demanded to know why for avenging some real or fancied wrong such
Mubarak had told him a lie that his master as the one indicated above. Perhaps, the boy
was out. He abused Mubarak as. .. .* Mean-
was suffering from a sense of injury and
while Khansaheb rose and struck Gulab in the feeling of resentment on account of the charge
face. Mubarak, who was inside, came out with
which he believed to be ill-founded; and it
a knife and stabbed Gulab to death.
is this feeling, more than anything else, which
rendered him a victim of passion culminating
Here it is observed that the abusive word in this crime.
drove the lads to the paroxysm of anger which
could not be calmed down till the person,
A similar situation was at the basis of the
who abused, was done away with. The lads murder of Sitabai, an old Vadari Woman of
were, indeed, of an extremely hot temper. 60, by Govinda Gangaram, a Vadari boy,
However, it is conceivable that but for the aged 22, of Newasa taluka.
abuses the crime could have been averted.
In a certain survey number of the village
—In the following cases the of Pachegaon, some Vadaris were encamping
victims charged the offenders with sexual for a time. There were six huts of which one
misconduct with women, to whom the former was occupied by Sitabai, and the other by
were related or known, and hence were killed. Govinda.
There are three cases on record.
On the day prior to the crime, Sitabai, in
Dhavilia Rama was an 18-year-old Thakur her talk with Govinda's sister, Avadi, had
of Igatpuri Taluka. He killed Bhagya on imputed some misconduct to Govinda with a
the night of May 18, 1935 by giving axe Kaikadi woman, Limbi. The girl Avadi told
blows on his head. The circumstances leading this to her mother who quarrelled with Sitabai
to the murder are summed up in Dhavlia's on the ground that she made a false
own confessional statement: 'Bhagya believed imputation against her son.
that I was carrying on immoral intercourse
with Vali, a widow of 20 years. She was
Next day, another small incident took
Bhagya's cousin (father's brother's daughter). place. Sitabai picked up sorne logs for fuel
Therefore, whenever Vali came to my which were lying outside the enclosure of
village, Bhagya thought she came there Govinda's house. This supplied a fresh cause
because of her infatuation for me. Bhagya's for altercation, which unfortunately ended in
suspicion was based on the fact that she used the fatal assault upon Sitabai. Govinda's
to visit my house frequently before her mother abused her, and Sitabai again
marriage, a year ago. On this day (i.e. on referred to the above imputation. Govinda
May 18, 1935, Bhagya asked me, 'Where are came out of his house and killed her with a
you going?' I said, 'To the fair.' Thereupon crowbar.
he pushed me by the neck. I gave him an axe
Here, again, it will be observed that the
blow and killed him."
murder was an outcome of resentment caused
by the imputation noted above.
Clearly, the ordinary inducements to crime
such as the desire to get rid of a rival, or
Likewise, the murder of Abdul Momin by
to obtain plunder or other coveted object, or Karimalli Momin, a 25-year-old lad, belong-
to gratify some malignant passion are ing to a well-known weaving community of
*A Slang word which reflects badly on the honour of one's mother.
A B U S E S , I M P U T A T I O N S , AND SOCIAL O S T R A C I S M AS FACTORS OF C R I M E - C A U S A T I O N 3 5
Malegaon, in the Nasik district, may be sister to call Banu to Apshinge, his village, for
the purpose of receiving the amount of her
maintenance. He did not see her, and so
Karimalli used to
work as a labourer and he left word with her sister. He, then, went
live in the house of Abdul. A few days before to the vegetable market at Satara. There he
the offence took place, Abdul's wife h a d told met Banu. He requested her as above. He
her husband t h a t Karimalli had, in her told her that he would meet her at the
husband's absence, m a d e indecent overtures Koregaon bazaar on Monday (October 24,
to her. On this account Abdul asked Karimalli
1932). W h e n they met, he requested her t h a t
to leave the house. Words were exchanged, she should accompany him to Apshinge to
and Karimalli, boiling with rage, suddenly receive the amount of her maintenance.
took out his knife and stabbed Abdul to
After the bazaar was over, both M a h a d u
T h e crime was an unpremeditated one. It and Banu started for Apshinge. On their
was committed in the course of an altercation way, a discussion was going on between them.
and apparently in the heat of passion. Banu said to M a h a d u t h a t she did not lead
Remorse h a d led Karimalli straight to the an adulterous life like the sister of M a h a d u .
police station to surrender himself. He frankly Thereupon M a h a d u used abusive language
admitted the crime. He was transported for about the mother of Banu. Banu retorted
t h a t one of M a h a d u ' s wives ( M a h a d u h a d
two wives) was committing adultery with a
A m a n gets angry when some one accuses Brahmin of Khatav, and his other wife,
him of sexual deviations. He becomes more with a Maratha of Rahimatpur. Threafter
angry if his kinswomen be charged with she slapped Mahadu in the face and he
adultery. This is, as has been already retaliated by belabouring her to death.
observed, due to the notion that the honour
of the family is directly connected with the
Here it is clear t h a t the charges which
chastity of its females. Sometimes a person Banu had made were of a very serious nature.
m a y get so wild as to kill the accuser. T h e She had openly charged the sister as also
following two cases are on record.
the two wives of M a h a d u with adultery.
Indeed, any m a n could be very sensitive to
M a h a d u K a d a m was a 22-year-old gross insults of this kind, and in view of the
M a r a t h a of Koregaon taluka. Banu, the fact that the parties were at logger heads
victim, was his aunt. Daulat, the natural owing to the disputes raised by Banu about
father of M a h a d u , was the brother of Banu's her maintenance, it is not surprising that
husband, Gopala. Banu's husband died 10 Mahadu should get excited beyond limit.
years before the crime. M a h a d u was given in Moreover, Banu had slapped him. He grew
adoption to the widow of one Amruta who furious, lost total control and committed
was also a brother of Daulat. Banu h a d homicide.
obtained a decree for maintenance against
Daulat and she was awarded maintenance at
In another case, D h a d y a Vedu, a 25-year-
the rate of Rs. 75.00 a year. She was paid old Bhil of Shripur taluka made his own
her maintenance for three years after the maternal uncle, Naka, his victim for more
or less a similar reason.
On October 10, 1932, M a h a d u h a d gone
D h a d y a h a d a sister. She was married and
to the village, Karanje, to the house of Banu's
was pregnant at the time of the crime. T h e
DR. Y. S. MEHENDALE
village Bhils suspected that her pregnancy
A Maratha boy, Goba, of the same village
was due to illicit connection, the inference as Baburao was caught by some villagers in
being drawn from the fact that after her the act of illicit intercourse with a Mahar
marriage she stayed with her parents away woman. Baburao was one of those persons
from her husband. The matter was placed who claimed to have actually seen the parties
before the Panchas.
In the proceedings of the in the act. Baburao threatened to give
meeting of the caste panchayat,
Naka, the publicity to the affair and to bring it to the
deceased, took a prominent part in exposing notice of the village elders with a view that
Dhadya's family affairs. Subsequently, there Goba and his family be excommunicated.
was a quarrel between Dhadya and Naka, in Sakharam, Goba's relation, was asked to give
which the former gave the latter a mortal hush-money of Rs. 200.00 to Baburao.
blow, with a stick, on the head.
Instead of receiving money Baburao received
two gold bangles. However, after some days,
From this case it will be gathered that a Baburao changed his mind and took the
boy may commit violent crime not only when matter to the caste panchayat.
his personal honour is at stake but also when therefore, insisted on the return of the orna-
the prestige of his family is at stake. A loss ments. Baburao, even in the presence of
of family honour is also a loss of personal the caste men, denied having taken any
honour and self-regard.
3. Social Ostracism.
—Probably no other
form of social disapproval is more injurious
The deceased child's father was one of the
than social ostracism. In the first place, it elders of the village who took up the matter
causes greatest inconvenience to the person afresh and, being helped by some other
ostracised. He is deprived of the usual Panchas
of the village, decided to excomrnu-
services and companions in the village. No nicate Baburao. The decision was also given
one drinks with him or invites him to dinner. effect to by not inviting Baburao to the
As man is by nature gregarious, he becomes anniversary dinner which was held in the
gloomy and sad without companions. Social village and to which all other castemen of
ostracism is thus a solitary confinement. In the village were invited.
bygone days social ostracism was given effect
It may be added here that there was
to as a very severe kind of punishment that already a longstanding feud between Baburao
could be inflicted on a sinner. The relics of and the child's father. Several instances were
this kind of punishment are found even today deposed to establish the ill-will that existed
in some form or another.
between them. It is not surprising then that
In the present collection there are two Baburao was nursing a strong grievance in
cases of murder which must be said to be due the above matter and was seeking an oppor-
to social ostracism. The cases are as under: tunity to avenge himself.
The first case relates to Baburao Lotan,
This he did on October, 1938. The child's
a 24-year-old Maratha of Pachora taluka, father was away in his field as usual. Its own
who committed a heartless murder of a mother was away in another field. Its step-
2-year-old child in compensation for the mother, too, was busy with her domestic work,
wrong done him by the child's father. The and the child was alone playing in the
wrong was no other than a social boycott. courtyard. Just then Baburao came there,
The story runs as under:
lifted the child up and dashed it twice on
A B U S E S , I M P U T A T I O N S , AND SOCIAL O S T R A C I S M AS FACTORS OF C R I M E - C A U S A T I O N 3 7
the h a r d ground below, causing a fracture of
On account of the marriage ceremony of
one of the brothers, the office was closed, and
the whole family went to stay in Baimai
It is necessary to mention here that it is Building. Dattatraya slept in the office. He
not always essential for an injured person to prepared slips for his clients. He was also
inflict injury on a person who should actually entrusted with the work of buying grocery.
deserve to be injured or punished. Sometimes
it may suffice even if any one belonging to
When the brothers went to live in Baimai
the family of the enemy is penalised. T h e Building, Dattatraya took his food in Burjorji's
underlying idea is that it is not merely the room in the same premises but on a separate
individual but his whole family that is res-
teapoy. Burjorji and his wife, the victim, took
for the wrong doing and their meals on a table separately.
hence any one of the members of the hostile
family may serve as an object of revenge.
A fortnight prior to offence, Dosibai thought
Thus, in this case, the boy obtained satisfac-
that it was not proper t h a t Dattatraya, a non-
tion by killing the child instead of its father. Zoroastrian, should take his meals in the same
Whosoever may be the victim, the dynamic room where the photo of the prophet was
force which hastened the boy to commit this hung. Accordingly, D a t t a t r a y a was served
crime was manifestly nothing less than social his food in the verandah. This was exactly
the motive for the crime. Since then he
became moody. To add insult to injury,
Another good illustration, where social Dosibai, very often used to rebuke him for
ostracism appeared in a somewhat different being unemployed. To a Brahmin, with w h o m
form, milder but nevertheless not less provok-
it has become a matter of social heredity to
ing, was that of Dattatraya Kulkarni, a claim absolute social supremacy over any
22-year-old Brahmin lad of Bombay. He was caste, however rich or powerful it m a y be,
condemned to death for making a murderous such a conduct as the one shown by Dosibai
attack on a defenceless young Parsi woman, would, indeed, become unbearable any longer.
namely Dosibai, wife of Burjorji Gadiwala, T h e result was t h a t in the forenoon of the
in her own room in the premises known as 12th day of November, 1936 he whipped out
Baimai Building at Parel, Bombay.
a knife and stabbed her to death.
Dattatraya had come to Bombay from his
4. Fear of Social Defamation.
—In not less
native place, about a year or so before the t h a n nine cases of concealment of birth by
crime. He was introduced to Nusserwanji and
secret disposal of body, the motive was the
his brother Burjorji as a helpless person who fear of social defamation. T h e legal termino-
would assist them in their work. T h a t work logy, namely 'concealment of birth by secret
consisted of foretelling American future rates disposal of body' m a y be conveniently
and other kindred subjects. These brothers transformed to mean nothing short of
undertook, having regard to their slender infanticide for the present purpose of socio-
means, to provide for the board of Dattatraya
logical research. In fact, it may be asserted
and pay him his expenses on a very modest t h a t in India infanticide is practised from
scale. Dattatraya agreed. Thereupon he was very m a n y motives. At one time infanticide
allowed to sleep in the office-room, and was was a custom. In this connection Haikerwal
provided with board and clothing, and also observes that the strong prejudice against t h e
given some smoking allowance.
birth of girls or, in other words, the preference1
D R . Y. S. M E H E N D A L E
of sons to daughters often resulted in the nothing short of the fear of social censure
killing of girls. Today infanticide is resorted to or defamation.
in order to get rid of inconvenient offspring
T h e following cases m a y be selected to
(female children) whose advent in poor serve as illustrations.
families, already overburdened with debt,
Genu Avchat was a 22-year-old M a n g
amounts to nothing short of a calamity. (untouchable) of Alegaon in Shirur taluka in
Sometimes infant girls are sacrificed to the district of Poona. He was unmarried a n d
appease the evil spirits which are supposed was poor. Jaibai was a 30-year-old married
to be the guardians of treasures.1 Infanticide woman belonging to the same caste as Genu.
m a y yet be committed to save family from H e r husband was a resident of R a h u in
calamity if the child happens to indicate D h o n d taluka. About five years before t h e
certain characteristics of behaviour which are crime, she became blind on account of small-
symbolic of future calamity to the family in pox and hence her husband gave her u p .
which it is born.
Since then she h a d been living at Alegaon.
In the course of time, Genu and Jaibai
However, none of these motives was became intimate. On August 16, 1941, Jaibai
operative in the cases under review. T h e gave birth to a child. As soon as it was born,
births of victims in all t h e cases were due to it was killed. Jaibai, anticipating severe
illicit connections between the criminals and consequences of her fiendish act, asked Genu
girls. In three cases the girls h a d been fore-
to secretly to remove the dead child and
saken by their husbands and had been on throw it into a river. This Genu did. That
terms of illicit intimacy with the offenders Genu was a simple and unsophisticated youth
for a long time. In other cases the girls were and was led astray by Jaibai, quite a grown-
widows, m a n y of whom were considerably up woman with considerable sex experience
older than the boys.
to her credit, becomes apparent from the fact
If it is a truism that in Indian society it that he voluntarily made a clean breast of
is the mother of the illegitimate child who everything and readily pleaded guilty to the
suffers more from social censure and ridicule charge. In view of his poverty and subsidiary
t h a n the father, it will be easy to see why the
p a r t in the crime he was bound over for
bulk of cases of infanticide are supplied by Rs. 50.00 for six months.
One more case m a y be cited. N a n a
Coming to the cases in question it may be L a x m a n was a 24-year-old M a r a t h a of K h e d
stated t h a t in the majority of cases the taluka in the Poona district. He was un-
offenders were directly induced by the girls married as he was very poor. T h a k u was a
to condemn the illegitimate child to death. 28-year-old widow. H e r husband died about
In the other cases, although it appears t h a t eight years before the crime. Since then she
the offenders were the real authors of the was leading an immoral life. About a year
crime, the girls were, nevertheless,
r to the offence, she became intimate with
consenting party. On the whole the reading Nana. Their intimacy resulted in the
of the cases leads to the conclusive finding pregnancy of Thaku. On October 23, 1941,
t h a t t h e real victims were the boys and not she was delivered of a child, and Nana, at her
the girls, and the motive for the crimes was instance, buried it in a dung heap.
1 B . S. Haikerwal, Economic and Social Aspects of Crime In India,
( L o n d o n : George Allen &
Unwin Ltd., 1934), p p . 70-71.
2 While going throug h the judicial records, the present writer has come across countless instances
where women, rather than men, were tried and convicted under Section 318 of the I.P.C.
T h e above statement is, therefore, based upon personal observations.