Gujarat: ‘Upper’ Caste Men Attack Dalit Wedding Procession Over Members Wearing Turbans

A Dalit man’s wedding procession was attacked with stones in the Mota village of Gujarat’s Banaskantha district on Monday, February 7, because members of the procession were wearing safas (traditional turbans), the Deccan Herald reported.

The Banaskantha police subsequently booked 28 individuals, including the village sarpanch, who belongs to the ‘upper’ caste Rajput community, late on the night of the wedding and charged the attackers under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The first information report (FIR), filed at the Gadh police station, included charges under IPC Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 506 (criminal intimidation) as well as several sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act (SC/ST Act).

Thereafter, the case was handed over to the deputy superintendent (DySP) of the SC/ST cell of the police, said the DySP of Gadh police station Kushal Oza, according to news agency PTI.

Details of the incident

The FIR was filed on the basis of a complaint made by Virabhai Sekhalia, the father of bridegroom Atul Sekhalia, which detailed the events leading up to Monday’s incident.

According to the complaint, several members of the village, including village sarpanch Bharatsinh Rajput, had objected to the family’s plan of having the bridegroom ride a horse during the procession, threatening them with “consequences” if they went through with it.

The family reportedly remained resolute, which led to the sarpanch calling a public meeting of villagers on Sunday where they, once again, threatened the family and told them that the a member of the Dalit community cannot ride a horse because it goes against a supposed centuries-old tradition, according to Sekhalia’s complaint.

In order to avoid any confrontation on the day of the wedding, the family decided not to have the bridegroom ride a horse. Before the wedding, the family also sought police protection.

When the procession began on Monday amid the presence of police personnel, some of the attackers reportedly took objection to members of the procession wearing safas and began hurling casteist remarks at the family. Some “unidentified” individuals began pelting them with stones, injuring one of the bridegroom’s relatives, according to the FIR.

The police were able to usher the procession away to the bride’s village. Once the family returned after the wedding, Sekhalia filed his complaint with the police.

(Source: The Wire)