Authorities in the Mahidpur tehsil of Ujjain district in Madhya Pradesh have asked sarpanches and panchayat secretaries to inform police three days in advance if there is a wedding in a Dalit family in villages under their jurisdiction. Citing a recent showdown between Dalits and upper castes that led to an FIR against 17 people in Naggurdiya village after upper caste men allegedly forced a Dalit groom to get off a horse, Mahidpur sub-divisional magistrate Jagdish Gome, in a circular, asked sarpanches and secretaries to keep an eye on villages in their areas.
“It’s a precautionary measure. We want to avoid any untoward incident. After a case of atrocity is reported, it’s difficult to get evidence because the accused deny everything and come up with a different explanation. It becomes difficult to probe such cases. It’s better that police remain present during marriage processions,’’ SDM Gome told The Indian Express over phone.
He said the idea of the circular struck him while he was speaking to a sub-divisional police officer about cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Referring to the incident that prompted the circular, the SDM said the Dalits backed the atrocity charge but the upper caste members, some of whom have been arrested, claimed they had asked the Dalit family to stop for a few minutes since it was a single-lane road with a tractor parked there.
He said there were several small incidents involving different castes that burdened the administration with work. He said the circular would also help stop child marriages, if any, because the presence of policemen would be a deterrent. Nobody, he said, had complained about the circular. The circular would also apply to marriages among STs and OBCs, he said.