New Delhi: A Dalit army jawan’s wedding procession was reportedly disrupted in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district on Sunday by stone pelting from the Thakor Koli community, because the groom was riding a mare. The stone-pelting occurred despite police protection for the procession.
The violence took place at around 11 am on Sunday in Sharifda village. Akash Kumar Koitiya, a 22-year-old jawan who is on leave for his wedding, rode on a mare as part of his wedding procession.
“Earlier, we received threats from a few people from the Thakor Koli community that they would not allow the procession to pass through the village if the groom rode a mare. We gave a written request for police security after which 6-7 police personnel were deployed to accompany the wedding procession. However, after the procession started moving, a group of people started throwing stones. The groom narrowly escaped an injury and was taken to the police control room van. However, three of our relatives, including two women, were injured in the stone-pelting,” said Akash’s brother Vijay Koitiya, according to the Indian Express.
Dalapatbhai Bhatia, president of the Dalit Samaj in Banaskantha, also confirmed this. “He had come to his village for marriage a few days back. When we tried to ignore the objections raised by upper caste members of the village, they pelted stones. A 60-year-old man and some women playing garba were injured, and a DJ sound system was damaged,” he told PTI.
The police have said they have registered an FIR and the situation is under control. More police joined the security team after the stone-pelting, and the procession continued. In the FIR, 11 Thakor Kolis have been named – Senji Koli, Shivaji Koli, Deepak Koli, Tushar Koli, Bhavan Koli, Vinod Koli, Ramaji Koli, Deepak Ishwar Koli, Bai Koli, Manju Koli and Jeetu Koli. No arrests have been made so far.
“We have booked 11 accused under Indian Penal Code sections 323 (assault), 337 (causing hurt by rash act) 294 (obscenity), 506 (criminal intimidation) 147 (rioting) and 148 (rioting with deadly weapon) along with sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities Act),” P.G. Rajput, officer in charge of Gadh police station, told the Indian Express.
Several similar instances – of Dalit weddings being disrupted and grooms even being assaulted for riding a horse – have been reported from across India. In April 2018, a Dalit groom was attacked in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara. Just weeks before that, in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain, stones were pelted at a Dalit groom who chose to ride a horse during his wedding procession.
In 2017, upper caste men from the Rajput community in Haryana allegedly pushed a Dalit groom from his horse and beat him up for performing the ghurchari ceremony.
In 2015, a similar incident of attacking a Dalit groom occurred in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh. Certain upper caste members threw stones at a Dalit groom for riding a horse, following which they took away the animal with them. When the procession arranged for a second horse, the villagers came back to attack, because of which the groom had to wear a helmet all the way.