Dalit groom’s horse ride triggers threats

Tension gripped a village in north Gujarat’s Sabarkantha district on Friday after some upper caste residents objected to a Dalit bridegroom riding a horse during his wedding procession, a day after a similar controversy broke out in another village in the state.

According to police, the upper caste members allegedly issued a diktat asking the bridegroom, Sanjay Rathod, not to ride a horse, leading to tension in Sitwada village. Later, police personnel were deployed in the village to ensure that the situation remains under control, said Punjabhai Desai, a police inspector.

He said there was no formal complaint was registered by either side.

On Thursday, some Dalits had faced social boycott in north Gujarat’s Lhor village over a similar incident. The police arrested five persons, including Lhor sarpanch Vinuji Thakor, under the provisions of SC/ST [Prevention of Atrocities] Act in connection with Thursday’s incident. The gram panchayat had passed the boycott resolution and also announced a penalty of ₹5,000 on the Dalit bridegroom, allege the latter’s relatives.

“Arrests have been made. But the boycott against our community continued even on Friday. We will see what the minister does about it now,” said Manubhai Parmar, a relative of the bridegroom. Deputy CM Nitin Patel on Friday visited Lhor village where the Dalits complained that they were denied even cereals and milk by shopkeepers.

The incidents also snowballed into a political slugfest between parties. Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for failing to protect Dalits’ rights. Patel accused “outsiders” of fuelling tension for political gains.

Analysts claim, Dalits in the state continue to face discrimination although they are now more aware of their rights.

First Published:
May 10, 2019 23:55 IST

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