Mumbai, Sep 8 :  A couple, facing social boycott in their village in coastal Konkan, today performed puja of the Ganesh idol installed at Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ official residence Varsha in south Mumbai. The couple, Parmanand Hewalekar and wife Preetam, had reached the main gate of Mantralaya, the state Secretariat, yesterday, with an idol of Ganesh, after residents of their village barred them from celebrating Ganesh puja. Hearing their plight, Fadnavis invited them to Varsha, an official said.

The couple was on a dharna at Mantralaya last night to seek justice against their social boycott. The Hewalekars have been ostracised by the ‘jaat panchayat’ of their village Mahadevache Kerwade in Kudal tehsil of Sindhudurg district. The ugly spectre of caste panchayats in Maharashtra resurfaced last month when a 45-year-old autorickshaw driver in Pune was allegedly driven to commit suicide after suffering sustained humiliation at the hands of an illicit caste tribunal. (ALSO READ: Uddhav Thackeray meets Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over issue of policemen’s safety )

Arun Kisan Naikunji, who belonged to the Lingayat Gawli caste, allegedly took his own life at his home in Pune’s Wadgaon Sheri area by hanging himself after he and his family were boycotted relentlessly for two years by the caste tribunal. He had suffered social exclusion for reportedly supporting an inter-caste marriage, which was attended by the victim’s brother.