The issue of a Dalit groom being barred from riding a horse during his wedding procession rocked the Haryana Assembly which saw heated exchanges today with Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar saying a minister has been rushed to the village to ease tensions. Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Congress leader and former Speaker Kuldeep Sharma said members of the Dalit community from Sagga village have been forced to leave their homes and were now sitting on protest in Karnal.
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Heated exchanges ensued as Health Minister Anil Vij attacked the Congress, saying it has no moral standing to raise the issue. “Their own state unit president, a Dalit (Ashok Tanwar), was mercilessly beaten up at a party rally in Delhi last year,” he said. He was referring to the Mirchpur incident, in which two Dalits were burnt to death and said that too had happened during Congress rule.
Finance Minister Capt Abhimanyu and BJP’s state unit president Subhash Barala too joined the exchanges with Sharma. Khattar then rose and said that Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Krishan Kumar Bedi and MLA Bhagwan Dass Kabirpanthi have been sent to pacify both communities and ease tension in the village.
The state government was making efforts to normalise the situation in the village and persuade 100-125 members who had left the village to return, he added. He said that as per information, the villagers had unanimously decided to do away with the ‘ghurchari’ ritual in which a groom mounts a horse.
“But when members belonging to one community (Dalit) wanted to perform the ritual, they were stopped by members of another community, which made the situation tense,” he said.
Khattar said the “‘Ghurchari’ ritual was performed in the presence of police, but it was opposed by members of another community and they resorted to pelting of stones, which caused injuries to some police personnel and several others.”
The police has registered a case “and another case was registered under the provisions of the SC/ST Act, he said. Initially both the communities agreed to sort out the issue, but as per information received, there were some others (among the Dalits) who wanted action to be taken as per the cases registered by the police, he said.
“The government is trying to restore normalcy and resolve this issue. But in case it’s not resolved, further action would be taken as per the FIR lodged in this case. The Deputy Commissioner, Karnal had also constituted a committee to resolve the issue,” he added. After Khattar spoke, BJP members raised objection against some words that had been used by Congress leader Sharma in the Assembly.
Noisy scenes were again witnessed. However, the Congress member then agreed to withdraw the remarks, that were being objected to and the BJP members later dropped the proposal of bringing condemnation resolution against him.