Unable to Assure Peace, Kasganj DM Calls Dalit’s Baraat a “Stunt”
Video editors: Purnendu Pritam and Mohd Irshad
“They say they won't fall on our feet. We say we will not let the wedding procession move across the village. A Thakur will remain a Thakur. There will be conflict”, Urmila Devi, a Thakur from Nizampura village in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj, tells The Quint.
The village, which has a population of about 400 people, is dominated by Thakurs. There has been a standoff between the Thakur and Dalit communities in the village for about three months now. Why? Because the Dalits in Nizampura have decided to do something their village has never seen before. They want to depart from the age-old tradition of restricting Dalit wedding processions to the lane that houses their families, and take it across the village and outside the houses of Thakurs.
This desire has irked the Thakurs, who have repeatedly said that no one can change a parampara (tradition) like that. They’ve threatened violence if the wedding procession crosses their area.
The Dalit bride and groom, Sheetal and Sanjay Jatav, repeatedly wrote to the district magistrate, superintendent of police and several other authorities for about three months to get permission and security to carry out the wedding procession (baraat) across the village, but their request was repeatedly denied.
"I want my wedding procession to go across the village”, Sheetal told The Quint.
A local cop said the police have not accepted the Dalit family’s request due to the violence threatened by the Thakurs.
Reporter: Why not give them permission?
Local cop: What if someone fires a bullet from the roof of a house and someone dies? What if the groom is hit? Then who will be responsible?
Reporter: The police will be.
Local cop: How much responsibility can the police take? We are saying don’t take out a procession. Just accept it.
Reporter: So you too think there can be a casualty?
You tell me. You’re a woman. And they said all those things to you, then to us they would have even said more. A job of a policeman is based on probabilities.
The district magistrate even questioned the intent of the groom.
However, in spite of saying what they did, the authorities eventually bowed down to pressure and granted permission, but with a catch. The route for the wedding procession is predetermined, crosses only a few Thakur houses, and must be strictly followed.
Permission granted or not, these three months have exposed the caste bias in the village. Sheetal’s uncle, Durjan Singh Jatav, who says thinking needs to change with the times, adds, “To insult and humiliate (us Dalits) has become a way of life in Nizampura”.
(With inputs from Anthony Rozario and Abhishek Ranjan Chaudhary)