The Ujjain district administration on Saturday ordered withdrawal of a circular issued by a sub divisional magistrate that asked sarpanches and panchayat secretaries in Mahidpur tehsil to inform the local police three days in advance if there was a wedding in a Dalit family in villages under their jurisdiction.
Ujjain Collector Manish Singh said the intention behind the circular was to prevent any law and order situation during weddings but it should not have been issued because it sent a wrong message by mentioning Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes/Other Backward Class. “It was a purely internal administrative order but such instructions are to be issued orally, not in writing,” he said.
“Going by experience in previous years and the incident in Nagguradia (a village where a Dalit groom was forced to get down from a horse allegedly by upper caste villagers), sarpanches and panchayat secretaries are directed to inform the police three days ahead of a wedding or baraat in SC/ST/OBC families,’’ the circular issued by Mahidpur SDM Jagdish Gome had read. It warned sarpanches and secretaries of action if they failed to inform authorities in advance or immediately after an incident took place.
Gome defended the circular on Saturday, saying it was meant as a precautionary measure to prevent untoward incidents. He said he would abide by orders of seniors. After the circular was issued, he received three messages and acted accordingly. The SDM said he belonged to a Scheduled Caste and issued the circular in consultation with the police.
He said he was an LLM and knew the legal consequences of his circular. He compared the circular with Section 109 of CrPC that allows an executive magistrate to ask a person to execute a bond, with or without sureties, for good behavior if a person is “seen concealing his presence and there’s a reason to believe he is doing so with a view to committing a cognizable offence.”
Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh called the circular a stain on social harmony. “On one hand the BJP engages in gimmicks like organising meals at Dalit households, and on another hand issues a circular that amounts to insulting Dalits. Something like this did not happen even during the British times,’’ he said.