Lucknow: Furious that two of their panchayat members had been arrested, villagers in Uttar Pradesh's Baghpat region on Friday beat up two policemen investigating the panchayat's 'Taliban' diktat banning women from using cell phones, going to the market or walking unescorted.
The policemen, who had arrested two panchayat members, had gone to Asaara village in Baghpat, about 450 km from here, after senior officials took cognizance of the diktat and dispatched a team to probe the matter.
The policemen were brutally attacked and their motorcycle set on fire, said an official, adding that the villagers fled after freeing the arrested panchayat members.
According to Inspector General of Police (Law & Order) Badri Prasad Singh, the ruling of the panchayat was not just unfair to women but also unconstitutional.
"The guilty would be brought to book and punished," Badri Prasad said. He added that strict action would be taken against those who attacked the police personnel.
The village also vented its ire at the media that had gathered.
Panchayat members asked camera crews and journalists to back off or face their anger, a local police official said, adding that arrangements were being made to ensure law and order.
The Asaara panchayat had on Thursday set out a series of rules for women under 40 -- that they should cover their heads, not use mobile phones, not leave the house after sunset.
It also banned the entry of couples who had a love marriage. The Asara panchayat's ruling has led to outrage.
"It is sad to see how in today's modern society too, such old fashioned, archaic mindsets exist and that they even try to force themselves on the women around them," said Madhu Garg of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA).
Added Naheed Verma, another activist: "I am bewildered why the government and the police does not clamp down on such elements once and for all. How can this be allowed and tolerated in today's era."