Is there racism in India? No? Okay, but aren’t you a teeny tiny bit racist when you say, “Look here, I won’t tolerate some chaps riding horses to their weddings because they are born into a lower caste than I?”
Police in Madhya Pradesh had to make a Dalit bridegroom (‘Dalit’ is the new politically correct word to refer to the formerly ‘untouchable’ castes) a helmet to wear during his marriage procession at a place called Negrun because upper caste people in the village threw stones at him for riding a horse.
The bride’s father, Puralal, said the upper caste people had opposed the idea of the groom, Pavan, riding a horse and took away the animal.
“Sensing trouble, I had informed the police in advance following which the sub-divisional police offficer and SDM reached the village along with some policemen to ensure that the marriage procession passed through without trouble,” he said.
After one horse was taken away, the family arranged for another, and in the presence of policemen, the procession was taken out with the groom riding the horse.
However, even though there were policemen present, the stone-throwing started again. The police then arranged for a helmet and asked the bridegroom to wear it as a precautionary measure following which the procession passed through Negrun streets, Mr. Balraj said.
At least five persons, including an Additional Tahsildar, K.L. Jain, were injured in the attack in the night of May 10, Suresh Balraj, who is in charge of the Taal police station, said on Tuesday.
The police have registered a case against 72 people under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. A case of arson was registered against four others.
After the marriage ceremony, Mr. Puralal reached the Taal police station and filed a complaint. A case was registered against Shravan Singh and 71 others. Twenty-seven people have already been arrested by the Deputy Superintendent of Police at the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe police station, Rasheed Khan.
During the protest, a few persons set fire to the premises of one Prabhulal, following which four were arrested.
The police have started an investigation.
But this isn’t the first case in Madhya Pradesh, six days earlier, another hapless Dalit bridegroom groom was forced to get down from the horse he was riding as part of a pre-wedding ritual and beaten up by upper caste men at Sadwa village, the police said.
The incident took place two days ago, when 21 year old Manoj Ahirwar went around the village on horse-back seeking the blessings of village elders, said Chhattarpur’s Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Neeraj Pandey.
As per village “tradition”, only upper-caste grooms are “allowed” to ride on a horse, while lower castes are expected to go on foot to seek the blessings of elders.
The police said they had arrested seven people identified as Ladle Yadav, Khadia Yadav, Ammu Yadav, Mitthu Yadav, Jaahar Yadav, Ram Singh and Pavrat Pal, while six others, including village headman Khuman Singh, were absconding.
The upper caste men said that some in the bridegroom’s procession made some comments that lead to the scuffle, with upper caste men objecting to the “violation” of village “tradition”.