The BJP government in Haryana has rushed its two senior leaders — a minister and an MLA — to a Karnal village which is witnessing tension after the upper caste men barred a Dalit groom from carrying out the marriage ritual of ghurchari recently. Over 100 Dalits have been in Karnal town since Monday demanding action in the matter. Haryana’s Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Krishan Kumar Bedi and MLA Bhagwan Dass Kabirpanthi have been sent to village Sagga (Karnal) to pacify the members of both the communities and ease tension.
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The state Assembly too witnessed a ruckus over the issue on Tuesday after Congress MLA and former speaker Kuldeep Sharma raised the issue terming it atrocities on Dalits. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the government was trying its best to resolve the issue. Ghurchari is a pre-nuptial ritual in which the groom rides a mare to the village temple. A policeman and several others had sustained injuries in stone-pelting on the night intervening Friday and Saturday when ghurchari of a Dalit youth, Sombir, was being performed.
As per the information, Khattar informed the Assembly, the villagers had unanimously decided to do away with the “ghurchari pratha” in the village. But when the members belonging to the Scheduled Castes community wanted to perform “ghurchari”, they were stopped by members of another community, which made the situation tense.
However, Khattar further said, as per their wishes, the “ghurchari” was performed in the presence of police, but it was opposed by members of another community who resorted to pelting of stones, which caused injuries to some police personnel and several others. Following the incident, the police registered a case. Another case was registered under the SC/ST Act.
However, the community which had earlier opposed the holding of “ghurchari” apologized. “Whenever such incidents opposing the members of the Scheduled Castes occur, politics begins and people of even Delhi and Uttar Pradesh get involved and others are also provoked,” Khattar alleged. Earlier, Khattar said, both groups agreed to sort out the issue, but as per information received by him, while some members agreed to sort it out, there were some others who wanted action to be taken as per the cases registered by the police.
“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,” said the CM, adding that Karnal DC has also constituted a committee to resolve the issue.
Meanwhile, Dalits on Monday protested at the Karnal district headquarters demanding arrest of the upper caste men. They also demanded rehabilitation in Karnal stating they won’t leave Karnal owing to security reasons. The police have booked more than 40 persons in connection with the incident, apart from assuring security to the Dalits.
Not first case of caste conflict
The latest incident is just a reminder of similar incidents related to caste discrimination in different villages of the state during the past few months. A few months back, a Dalit groom was barred from carrying out ghurchari by a group of upper caste men in Kanalshi village of Yamunanagar district. In October 2016, farmers in another Yamunanagar village Sabepur had banned entry of Dalits in their fields following a dispute between a Dalit woman and a farmer from dominating caste.
Meanwhile, Karnal Deputy Commissioner Mandeep Singh Brar told The Indian Express that the dalits have returned to the village on Tuesday evening after a meeting with the minister Krishan Kumar Bedi.
“The police have been deployed in the village to ensure peace and harmony ,” added Brar. When Bedi was holding talks with the dalits, Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment Ramdas Athawale also reached Karnal to resolve the issue.