A senior government scientist with the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has come under flak from activists and social outfits in the city for lodging a case against her cook for allegedly ‘impersonating’ as a Brahmin since May 2016 and lying about her caste.
Dr. Medha Vinayak Khole, who is Deputy Director-General for the IMD’s weather forecasting section, sparked controversy with her complaint lodged against the cook Nirmala Yadav at the city’s Sinhagad Police Station on Thursday evening.
Police sources said that Dr Khole filed a complaint after she discovered that the cook was not of the Brahmin caste, but belonged to the Maratha community following the recently-concluded Gauri Ganpati festival.
The police said that Dr. Khole alleged in her complaint that Ms. Yadav had ostensibly concealed her caste to secure the job as she was under severe financial stress. But according to Ms. Yadav (60), Ms. Khole had never asked her about her caste when she sought work with her in 2016.
“She [Khole] only asked my name when I went to her for work last year. It was only after Gauri Ganpati that she [Khole] discovered I was a Maratha and not a Brahmin. Following this, she barged into my house and began assaulting me, while stating that our God was of the streets while theirs was in the heaven. She also threw my mobile phone while abusing me,” Ms. Yadav alleged.
Dr. Khole, however, claimed that her “religious sentiments were hurt” as she had wanted a married Brahmin woman to cook for family events such as the death anniversary of her parents and the Gauri Ganapati Festival. She further claimed that she had paid Ms. Yadav wages amounting to ₹20,000 since the past year.
In her complaint, Dr. Khole alleged that it was Ms. Yadav who had assaulted her and lodged a case under sections 419 (impersonation), 352 (assault or use of criminal force) and Section 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
At a time when caste issues are flashpoints across Maharashtra, the case has sparked a furore among Maratha groups.
Since Friday noon, a number of Maratha groups, including the Maratha Kranti Morcha, demonstrated against Dr. Khole in front of the Ved Bhavan in Kothrud, leading to tension in the area.
Members of the Sambhaji Brigade have demanded a counter-case be filed under against Dr. Khole under the Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016 and relevant sections of the IPC dealing with abuse of official position and assault.
“It is shocking that an educated woman like Khole can behave in such an insensitive fashion at a time when such issues are particularly inimical to to social harmony. This [case]merely exemplifies just how deeply entrenched notions of caste are. Despite the woman [Yadav] working honestly for a year, Khole had objections with her caste. The complaint against Yadav is utterly false and shameful,” said Santosh Shinde of the Sambhaji Brigade.
Members of the outfit met with Joint Commissioner of Police, Ravindra Kadam and demanded an immediate probe into the case.
“What is disturbing is the alacrity with which the Sinhagad police lodged the case against Yadav without listening to her side. In contrast, they are extremely tardy when it comes to filing cases pertaining to social boycott or caste discrimination “ said Nandini Jadhav of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS) alleging that Dr. Khole had completely distorted the true nature of events by filing a false case.