A pre-wedding procession by a Dalit family was attacked in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district, allegedly by people from an upper caste community, on Sunday night after the Scheduled Caste groom rode a mare during the traditional ‘Bindoli’ ceremony a day before his wedding.
Three or four people were injured in the attack, and people from the Dalit communities said although they had sought police help, police personnel stood mute witness during the attack.
Denying the charge of inaction, Additional SP (Headquarter), Bhilwara Paras Jain said, “We have taken seven people under preventive custody. They will be arrested later under relevant Sections (of law).” Jain said FIR has been lodged under IPC Sections including 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) along with Sections of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The incident took place in Bhilwara’s Gordhan Pura village, around 160 km northeast of Udaipur. Bhanwar Lal Regar, 24, whose younger brother, Uday Lal, was riding the mare during the ceremony, said that in 2010 a similar procession before his elder brother’s wedding was stopped by upper caste villagers.
He said, “The police watched silently as the men, armed with sticks, stones and axes, beat us. They also misbehaved with women who were in the procession and tore their clothes.”
Alleging that most attackers were from the Gurjar community, Regar said, “As 40 or 50 people attacked us, we said that we were ready to take back the Bindoli procession, but they did not listen to us. People (local residents) such as Sukha Gurjar, Jaggu Gurjar and Heera Gurjar attacked us.”
Regar said that they were getting constant threats from villagers after deciding to bring a mare for the Bindoli procession. “So we submitted an application to the police, and were provided security. But at the time of the attack, they (police personnel) did nothing,” he claimed.
Bindoli is a ritual in Rajasthan in which the groom takes a ceremonial round of the village on horseback before the wedding. Traditionally, people from lower caste communities were not allowed to take part in these processions, although that has changed now as part of social mobility, according to social scientists.
Suresh Meghwanshi, who received treatment at hospital, said he was beaten up mercilessly because he was an active participant in the planning of the ceremony from the beginning. “The Bindoli procession of Regar’s elder brother was stopped in 2010 despite the fact that the groom was walking, and not riding a mare,” he said.
Bhagwati Lal Regar said, “They attacked us at 9.30 pm (Sunday). Some of them were carrying sharp-edged weapons. I was beaten on my stomach and back.”
Additional SP Jain said, “It is wrong to say that the police did nothing. The attack did take place but the police controlled the situation and prevented it from escalating.”