In a diktat, the head of Suraj village in Narendra Modi’s native district Mehsana in Gujarat has banned unmarried women from using mobile phones, even as the country’s prime minister continues to promote his ‘Digital India’ drive.
Unmarried women caught with mobile phones will be fined Rs 2,100 while informers will be rewarded with Rs 200 in the village, situated 100 kilometres from the state’s financial capital Ahmedabad, according to a report.
“Why do girls need cell phone? Internet is a waste of time and money for a middle-class community like ours. Girls should better utilise their time for study and other works,” Suraj village sarpanch Devshi Vankar said.
However, there are no restrictions when it comes to unmarried women talking to relatives using their parents’ phone.
The Sarpanch said that the entire village of 2,500 inhabitants, comprising of various castes, welcomed his decision.
The ban was imposed on February 12 in the village and is expected to spread other parts of northern Gujarat as the influential Thakor community, with the cooperation of other backward communities such as the Rabari and Vankar, has decided to bring more villages under this rule.
It all started with an alcohol de-addiction campaign for men started by the Thakors, which gradually extended to women’s lifestyle after community heads observed that the use of mobile phones by unmarried women was as much a 'nuisance' to the society as alcoholic men.
The village heads then formulated rules and regulations for women, in the process prohibiting unmarried women from using mobile phones.
“Alcohol consumption by men and cell phone use by women create a lot of disturbance in society. Young girls get misguided. It can break families and ruin relationship,” said Raikarnji Thakor, a community leader from north Gujarat.
“It (the ban) is the villagers’ idea only,” he added.