16 Jul 2018
#HistoryMade: Dalit-groom rides horse in Thakur-dominated UP-village
On Sunday, upper caste families of Nizampur village of Kasganj district of Uttar Pradesh chose to either stay indoors or leave the village. The reason? The presence of heavy police in the locality.
History was made, as for the first time a Dalit groom rode through the Thakur-dominated village in a horse leading his 'baraat' procession, with heavy forces ensuring nothing went wrong.
Jatav's wish to ride horse met strong resistance by Thakurs
In February, the 27-year-old Dalit man Sanjay Jatav announced he would ride a buggy led by horse for his baraat.
This led to an unlikely resistance in the village with upper caste members saying it was a practice they followed.
Despite threats and controversy, Jatav didn't give up. He approached the district administration, police, Allahabad High Court and even Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Scores of police officers took part in Jatav's procession
It was in April that Jatav sort of won the battle. The administration came up with a route that halved the distance but still included few Thakur households.
10 inspectors, 22 sub-inspectors, 35 head constables, 100 constables and a unit of provincial armed constabulary became part of Jatav's procession on D-Day.
The convoy had 30 cars and was greeted by reporters at bride's village.
Triumphant groom couldn't stop smiling, members of the baraat dancing
On his part, Sanjay Jatav was beaming with joy. The groom who defied caste prejudice was dressed in a blue suit and was surrounded by relatives dancing breathlessly.
"The Jatavs of Basai (his ancestral village) do what they say. And Sanjay Jatav is one of them," he said.
His bride, Sheetal, was elated to see her wedding being covered by media.
There will be repercussions, a village resident foretells
When Sheetal was asked why her family was taking the risk, she said the Constitution allows equal rights to everyone.
However, in the village, the Dalits are outnumbered (the ratio is 1:10) and a village resident prophesied hostilities would continue.
"Not one Thakur in the village will attend this wedding. Repercussions will follow, if not in two days then in two years," he said.
There are more police than guests in wedding, tells official
"Even if someone wants to create trouble, it wouldn't be possible to do that. We have made sure there are more police than guests in this wedding," said Kasganj's district magistrate. Another officer said personnel were deployed on rooftops to prevent any unceremonious incident.