A woman suffered burns after she was allegedly compelled by one of her neighbours to dip her hands in boiling oil to prove that she did not have any extra-marital affair

A woman suffered burns after she was allegedly compelled by one of her neighbours to dip her hands in boiling oil to prove that she did not have any extra-marital affair, in Nimaknagar village of Surendranagar district’s Dhrangadhra taluka on Tuesday, with police saying that the woman refused to file a formal complaint.

According to police, Geeta Vinchhiya (39), a resident of Nimaknagar, a village 20 km west of Dhrangadhra town, and Dhiru Bhimani (60), also a resident of Nimaknagar, dipped their hands in boiling oil in public on July 13 morning.

“Bhimani alleged that a man visits Vinchhiya regularly after her husband leaves home early morning for work. The woman rejected the accusation. To prove who was innocent, the man suggested that both of them dip their hands in hot oil… and they suffered burns,” said MD Solanki, assistant sub-inspector (ASI) in-charge of Nimaknagar beat of Dhrangadhra taluka police.

Vinchhiya and Bhimani were detained by Dhrangadhra taluka police under Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) section 107 (security for keeping peace in other cases).

“They dipped their hands in boiling oil on their own. We took them into preventive custody,” inspector AH Gori, in charge of Dhrangadhra taluka police station, told The Indian Express on Thursday. They were produced before a magistrate who released them on sureties.

A video of the incident went viral on social media, prompting police to take action. “We requested police to initiate action against Bhimani as such behaviour cannot be tolerated. But police informed us that the woman was not willing to file a complaint,” Nimaknagar village sarpanch Sajan Kudecha’s husband Chandu Kudecha said.

Nimaknagar is on the border of Little Rann of Kutch (LRK). Dipping one’s hands in boiling oil to prove one’s innocence was a practice prevalent in some pockets of Saurashtra, especially among communities marked historically by low literacy levels, till a few decades ago.

Solanki said that the woman’s burns were more serious. “We asked her to file a complaint but she refused saying they had sorted out the issue and that they were neighbours,” the ASI added.

Vinchhiya’s husband Vashram, a truck-driver by profession, took her to a doctor in Dhrangadhra on Wednesday who prescribed some medicines.

“For the past two months, Bhimani had been spreading rumours that I had an affair with a man. He was claiming he had seen a man entering my home after my husband would leave for work at 4 am. He said he was ready for a test by the fire to prove his claim. His five family members supported him. I had to dip my hands in boiling oil to prevent people from talking behind the back of my husband,” Vinchhiya, an illiterate, told The Indian Express.

She said that Bhimani just touched the oil with his fingertips, as, she said, he knew he was wrong. “I had no option but to do it,” added Vinchhiya who married Vashram when she was 13.
“We have been married for 27 years but I have not been able to conceive… Therefore, people are spreading rumours,” said Vinchhiya, who takes care of the couple’s five buffaloes and also works as an agricultural hand, said.

“I resisted filing a police complaint as the Bhimanis are our neighbours and outnumber us. I fear for the safety of my husband,” she added.

Vashram, who is also illiterate, drives salt trucks during salt cultivation season between December-June in the LRK and then does casual work. “I did not want my wife to put her hands in hot oil. But I was forced to keep mum by the majority,” said Vashram.

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