Jaipur- With the onset of the wedding season in Northern India after Makar Sankranti, marked by the conclusion of the inauspicious period of Mal Mas, the State Police Department has taken a proactive stance to prevent incidents of caste-based atrocities during wedding ceremonies. The state has unfortunately witnessed a recurring pattern of caste discrimination, particularly concerning the practice of denying grooms from lower strata, especially those belonging to Scheduled Castes, the cultural tradition of riding horses in baraat. As per a report in Rajasthan Patrika, over the past decade, there have been 138 such incidents in the state. Guidelines have been issued for the entire state to prevent such occurrences.
In response to this persistent issue, the Police Headquarters has rolled out comprehensive measures and instructions to ensure the protection of individuals from lower strata during their wedding celebrations. The police are on high alert, aiming to curtail any potential incidents of atrocities and uphold the principles of equality and justice. Guidelines have been issued for the entire state to prevent such occurrences.
The instructions from the Police Headquarters include heightened vigilance in areas with a history of caste-based discrimination during weddings. They have directed police personnel to actively monitor and identify regions where such incidents have occurred in the past or where tensions between communities exist. Preemptive action is urged, with authorities encouraged to intervene before any wedding event, especially those involving grooms from marginalized communities, to prevent any untoward incidents. Moreover, the Police Headquarters has emphasized the importance of community coordination. Beat constables, along with local authorities such as panchayat members, council representatives, and police mitras (friends), are urged to work collaboratively. Community members are to be provided with information on relevant laws to enhance legal awareness.
Additionally, the Police Headquarters has instructed prompt communication with higher administrative and police officials in case of potential incidents, ensuring timely and efficient response. The recent history of incidents where Dalit grooms were stopped from riding horses during wedding processions has prompted the Police Headquarters to issue stringent guidelines. They include conducting a thorough analysis of upcoming weddings in Dalit families, ensuring proper arrangements for traditional rituals, and coordinating with local officials and law enforcement agencies. The instructions emphasize the importance of immediate reporting, swift registration of FIRs, and diligent follow-up investigations, with a commitment to taking strict action against the perpetrators.
In December 2023, a Dalit groom was stopped from riding a horse in the Baraat procession in the Karauli district of Rajasthan. The incident took place in Akolpura village of Bihad, where the wedding procession from a Dalit family had reached the village. Some people from the village opposed and protested when they saw the groom riding a horse. A clash ensued between the two sides. Subsequently, the situation escalated into stone-pelting between the two groups.
In February 2022, a young Dalit IPS officer, Sunil Kumar Dhanwanta, rode a horse through the streets of Bhagatpura Jaisinghpura village, during his pre-wedding ceremony amid heavy police protection. This precautionary measure was taken due to concerns arising from past incidents where Dalit grooms had been targeted during such ceremonies.
In a distressing incident from November 2021, also in Jaipur, stones were hurled at a Dalit bridegroom's wedding procession. Despite the presence of deployed police officials assigned for security, the procession faced an attack. Subsequently, ten individuals were arrested, and three police officials, including the deputy superintendent of police (DSP) and the additional superintendent of police (ASP), were transferred.
Moving to Neemuch district in Madhya Pradesh in January 2022, a similar narrative unfolded. A Dalit groom named Rahul Meghwal rode a horse during his wedding procession, surrounded by a substantial deployment of around 100 policemen. Fearing potential trouble from upper-caste individuals, the police took proactive measures, conducting a flag march before the wedding to ensure a secure and trouble-free event.
In February 2022, a constable in Madhya Pradesh's Chhatarpur district faced resistance when attempting to ride a horse to his wedding. This marked the third such case within a month in the state, where Dalit grooms encountered opposition to their customary practice of riding horses during wedding processions.
In May 2015, a Dalit groom wore helmet to wedding to duck upper caste attack in MP. The incident was reported from Negrun village, about 70 kilometres northwest of Ratlam district headquarters, under the Tall police station. The groom was forced to wear helmet to escape the upper caste bullies, who lobbed stones at the procession claiming that such a gusto and honour was "not allowed to a Dalit."