A wedding procession of a Dalit bridegroom riding a horse has allegedly led to social boycott of the community by upper castes at Lhor village of Mehsana district in Gujarat.
Based on the complaint of the bridegroom’s father, police on Thursday registered an FIR against five upper caste men, including the sarpanch and deputy sarpanch of the village, under different provisions of the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the Indian Penal Code, and may arrest them soon.
According to the complaint lodged by Manubhai Parmar (50), who works as a labourer, his eldest son Mehul (24) got married on May 7. They took out a wedding procession in the village with the groom riding a horse. However, as per the complaint, a day after the wedding an announcement was made at the village temple by sarpanch Vinu Thakor and deputy sarpanch Baldev Thakor asking villagers, except the ‘Harijans’ (Dalits), to assemble at the village panchayat.
At the panchayat, which according to the complainant was witnessed by three Dalits, upper caste people said that they were “disturbed” over the marriage procession of Mehul as they felt the Dalits in the village “did not maintain their limits”.
According to the FIR, the five men named by Parmar — sarpanch Viju, deputy sarpanch Baldev, Bhopa Thakor, Manu Barot and Gabha Thakor — called for boycotting the Dalits. As part of the boycott, it was reportedly decided that nobody will give any food and work to Dalits or let them sit in vehicles. It was also reportedly decided that anybody who is found to be violating the “rules of the social boycott” would be not only be fined Rs 5,000, but will also be forced out of the village. According to the complaint, the next day (May 9), a Dalit woman, who went to a flour shop, was denied service, and another Dalit woman was not allowed to buy grocery.
“Some villagers asked me not to take out a procession while I was riding a horse. We then sought police’s help after we learned about the social boycott today morning. No one even gave us milk in the morning to make tea,” PTI quoted Parmar saying.
As the incident came to light, top officials and social activists reached the village. “An FIR has been registered and the five accused will be arrested soon…” Mehsana SP Nilesh Jajadia said. —(With PTI inputs)