In what is no mean feat in caste-driven Uttar Pradesh, a Dalit man will finally be able to ride a horse to his wedding through a Thakur-dominated village in Kasganj district. The battle for the samman (honour) and equality hasn’t been won easily, though.
Sanjay Jatav, a 27-year-old block development council member of Basai Babas village in Hathras district, was granted permission to take his baraat through the lanes of his bride’s Nizampur village only when the district administration managed to broker peace between the lower caste family and the Thakur families on Sunday.
Both sides have signed the letter, which spells out the route the baraat is to take through the village — as Sanjay had wanted — also says “no political or apolitical party will be part of the baraat because of who peace can be broken/no persons in the baraat will carry weapons or arms or consume any alcoholic substances/no one will use any loud instruments or make objectionable speeches or words…all people will maintain peace when the wedding is on”. The wedding is scheduled to take place around April 20.
Kasganj district magistrate R P Singh and senior police officers had called a meeting on Sunday evening and got both parties to sign a compromise. Sanjay Jatav agreed to a route which is not wholly the one he had asked for, around the village and through the village lanes, but one that passes a primary school and leads to one of the four inner village lanes.
Till before Sunday, Singh had maintained he will not concede to Jatav’s demands because it will “start a fight” and break “paramapara” (tradition) whereby no Dalit groom has ever taken out his baraat by the houses of the upper castes. This compromise comes in the wake of several Dalit MPs from UP writing to the central government about “discrimination” they were facing at the hands of the UP state government.
The district police have clamped prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC in the village and sent in a police team to maintain law and order. Both the 40 Thakur families and the five Dalit families in the village were asked to sign the affidavit which says they will not indulge in any violence or controversy and maintain peace.
“I am satisfied and happy. This is a victory. I had wanted to have a wedding like anyone else does. I do not know how the authorities agreed but I am happy,” Jatav said. This comes a week after the Allahabad High Court dismissed Jatav’s writ petition asking him to approach the police or a magistrate to resolve the issue with the upper caste Thakur residents of the village .
Kumar, who belongs to Basai Babas village in Hathras district of western Uttar Pradesh, had moved the court on March 16 seeking an intervention on the issue when his letters to the district police and authorities and even Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath yielded no results over the past two months.
“Am I not a Hindu? When the Constitution says we are all equal, and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath says we are all Hindus…why am I facing such a situation?” asked Kumar.
The wedding procession had become a matter of honour for both the 40 Thakur and Sheetal’s family in Nizampur village, with neither side willing to back down. The wedding is scheduled for April 20.