A Dalit couple is waiting since a month to get married on date April 21 which has been in a tense standoff with the bride’s village in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj, which is not far from where two people died in protests by Dalit groups on Monday.
The couple Sheetal and Sanjay, fighting towards a tradition that is basic to most north Indian weddings – a baraat or grand procession for the groom, who often rides a mare to the venue. They alleges that in Nizampur village, the upper caste Thakurs have outnumber the Dalits by a 90:10 ratio, have refused to allow a Dalit wedding procession.
Sanjay Kumar, a law student filed a petition wherein, last week the police submitted a map of the village to the Allahabad High Court. The police reportedly also gave three recent instances from the village in which Dalit weddings did not defy tradition.
The map illustrates the big problem with Sanjay Kumar’s plans and along the route he wants to take are the houses of Thakurs.The thakors have adviced to shift the wedding to an open ground just 80 metres from the bride’s home, to eliminate the need for an elaborate baraat.
Sheetal alleges that, “The Thakurs came here and told us the baraat will not pass through the village.They are telling us it if we go ahead with this, then it will not be good. They say this is our government and no one will listen to you.”
Sanjay Kumar besides going to court has posted an online complaint to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s portal and has repeatedly visited the police station. He says, “The District Magistrate now says the bride is two months short of 18. I believe records are being fudged…even if that is the case, I will wait for two months. But I will not compromise on the wedding procession.”
The Thakurs accuses him for giving political twist to the matter. The village elder Om Prakash Thakur says, “He just wants to instigate a riot and give bad publicity to the government. Let him get the procession to his house, we are ok with that, but not in the whole village.”
RP Singh, Kasganj ‘s district magistrate and an upper caste explains that, “In Hindus, marriage is a ritual and not a contract, and we can’t make it a procession – it’s as straight as this.” He also added that, “The local police officer has reported that a procession of this community has never been taken out. So have local intelligence inputs. A new tradition cannot be started,”
Sanjay Kumar’s lawyer Satyavir Singh says that “This is not right. The road in the village is a public one and everyone is entitled to use it.”