The Sabarkantha police have arrested eight persons for allegedly attacking a wedding procession of Dalits. The upper caste community of the village was against the Dalit family following the tradition of riding horseback in the wedding ceremony.
The arrests were made on Saturday. According to the police, on March 6, Harshad Solanki, a resident of Tejpuri village in Himmatnagar taluka, Sabarkantha district, was returning with his bride after marriage, when the procession following him was attacked by people belonging to the upper caste. They pelted stones and attacked them with sharp weapons injuring at least two dozen people, including children and women.
Kodar Solanki, uncle of Harshad, lodged an FIR stating that upper caste residents of the village had threatened not to follow the tradition of riding horseback. Fearing a clash, the groom Harshad, who is a police constable posted in Himmatnagar, sought police protection for the occasion.
“We were apprehensive of this attack, but nothing happened on the day of wedding and we followed the tradition. But when we were getting back after the marriage, we were attacked by a group of 30 to 40 people. We had followed the other route to enter our village. However, we couldn’t avoid the clash,” said Alpesh Solanki, cousin of the groom.
About 20 people from Dalit community sustained injuries. Three of them are said to be in critical condition. Sabarkantha District Collector Banchhanidhi Pani told The Indian Express that the situation in the village is under control and the administration is taking care of the victims.
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“We have assured them the expense of their treatment will be born by the district authority. Since Dalit family are apprehensive of losing their jobs in the aftermath of this incident, we have also assured them of giving jobs under MNREGA among others,” Pani said.
Tajpuri houses about 30 Dalit families who are farm labourers. They are dependent on upper caste community who possess most of the farm lands. According to Alpesh, the upper caste people would not give them any employment now and Dalits will be ostracised for taking out the procession and going to police to lodge the complaint.