Over the last month, the Kasganj administration and police have been trying, and failing, to broker a compromise between the Dalits and Thakurs of Nizampur village over a wedding procession on April 20. While the Dalits want to hold the procession (baraat) through the village, the dominant Thakurs are against it.
District officials say they have pored over two decades’ worth of information on how the two communities conducted weddings in the village. They claimed that while the Thakurs have been taking out their baraats through the village, this was the first time that a Dalit family had pressed their right. “I can not understand why there are two sets of rules for the two communities. The upper caste members have even objected to me riding a horse for my baraat,” said 27-year-old Sanjay Kumar Jatav from neighbouring Hathras district who is set to marry 20-year-old Sheetal from Nizampur village. Sanjay said the wedding was fixed six months ago and that he had written to district authorities, the SC/ST Commission and the chief minister for help.
Village head, Kanti Devi, a Thakur, said they could not allow this “new tradition”. “There will be a threat to law and order,” she said.
On Wednesday, District Magistrate (DM) R P Singh and Superintendent of Police (SP) Piyush Srivastava met members of both communities in the village. “It would not be appropriate to allow the baraat through the village as it would cause law and order problems. We have suggested another route. Members of the Thakur community have assured all help to the girl’s family in holding the function if they took up our proposal,” said DM Singh.
Meanwhile, Sheetal’s brother Bittu Kumar said, “We have yet to decide over the route for the baraat.” Police have bound 34 persons, including 23 Thakurs and 11 Dalits, to personal bonds that include legal action if they indulge in unlawful activity or breached the peace.
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