In Nizampur village of Kasganj district (Uttar Pradesh), Sanjay Jatav, a Dalit, took out his baraat on Sunday. In the process, he created history. In the village, chiefly dominated by the Thakur community, Dalits haven’t taken out wedding processions in nearly 80 years.
The baraat traversed the streets of Nizampur in the presence of over 150 police officers with Sanjay riding ahead on a horse buggy, defying the caste prejudice that has plagued the village for decades. The Thakurs had earlier opposed the baraat on the basis of their claim that no Dalit has ever taken out a wedding procession before. However, Sanjay, who hails from Hathras, was resolute in his decision to end the caste-based discrimination and intended on taking his bride, Sheetal, home.
A Victory For Kasganj’s Dalits
“We fought against all odds to just earn respect, dignity and equality for our community. Neither my community nor I was against local Thakurs, but we were against the indiscrimination on the basis of caste,” 27-year-old Sanjay told The Times of India.
Speaking to TOI, Sheetal said, “I’m happy, that my husband’s efforts have finally broken the age-old tradition of Thakur men to suppress the Dalit community. In the past four decades, the Dalit community in Nizampur was attacked thrice by the upper caste men, whenever they tried to take out a wedding procession here. This has changed now.”
Dalit groom takes out wedding procession after 80 years in Kasganj’s Nizampur village under police protection. Bride says, ‘Upper caste people in the village said that this has never happened & threatened to attack us. We’re less scared as we’ve got police protection.’ (15.07.18) pic.twitter.com/9taYsO8O72
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) July 15, 2018
The Long Struggle
Earlier, the Thakur community had allegedly issued a threat to disrupt the wedding following the engagement of Sanjay to Sheetal in February. When Sanjay learnt that Dalits weren’t allowed to take out baraats, he applied for help on the Chief Minister’s online grievance redressal portal. In light of the communal violence in Kasganj in January, the police observed that a baraat, inevitably passing by upper-caste homes, would lead to more violence.
When the families appealed to the Allahabad High Court, the authorities drew a “long and circuitous” route on a map to avoid any untoward incident for the wedding in April. However, the wedding was further stalled when members of the upper-caste allegedly told authorities that the bride was a minor, which the families refuted.
Later, the two communities brokered a compromise, agreeing upon a designated route for the wedding procession. It was also agreed that the bride would be of legal age post-July 5, and the wedding was also moved to July.
The Big Day
The wedding finally concluded on Sunday as heavy police force, along with the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) ensured to keep the peace.
According to Additional Superintendent of Police (SP) Pavitra Mohan Tripathi, the police now intends to maintain a keen eye on the situation even after the wedding. Tripathi told ANI, “There was no problem when the procession was being carried out. We have deployed sufficient force till the wedding ends. Our personnel will be alert in the village even after the wedding so that any unforeseen situation can be avoided.”