The police has registered a report against 16 people for being part of a tribal panchayat which punished a girl recently, for allegedly eloping, by cutting off her hair in public.
The tribal panchayat at Chikhlar village situated about five kilometres away from Betul district headquarters also punished the girl's uncle for allegedly eloping with her, by making him run around with a garland of shoes and a grinding stone tied to his chest.
Though the girl aged about 18 pleaded that her uncle had kidnapped her from the village market, the tribal panchayat allegedly did not listen to her pleas and insulted her.
The villagers vociferously have protested against the police action on Friday before the Superintendent of Police (SP) office here, demanding that the report be withdrawn. They also justified the action of their panchayat as it was their "tradition".
Terming the panchayat's decision as illegal, the police said that a case has been registered and a further probe is on.
So far, 13 persons have been arrested and released by the police on a personal bond and a search is on to trace the remaining three culprits.
The police had intervened following a tip-off by an anganwadi worker and the girl's family members spoke out against the panchayat diktat.
Her uncle who has been accused of eloping with her three months ago, was married, with two children. He returned to the village on March 19 after which the local tribal panchayat met on March 20 to issue the diktat, police sources said.