A Dalit man riding a horse as part of his marriage procession in Gujarat's Lhor village is being seen as a breach in the caste barrier and the entire community is now facing a social boycott. It is being claimed that a lower caste man cannot ride a horse.
Angered that Mehul Parmar, the groom, had ridden a horse, many members of the village, including the village sarpanch, called for a boycott of the members of the community. The wedding took place on Tuesday. The village sarpanch called for a meeting the next morning and announced the boycott.
They levied a fine of Rs 5,000 on anyone in the village who interacted with the community, reports The Times of India.
Shopkeepers refused to sell any product to them, including essentials like milk and food grains. The Dalit community was also not allowed to fetch water from the village well.
"Some villagers asked me not to take out a procession while I was riding a horse. We then sought police's help after we learned about the social boycott today morning. No one even gave us milk in the morning to make tea," Mehul Parmar was quoted as saying by The Quint.
"Villagers were angry because a Dalit groom rode a horse during the wedding procession. We were told that Dalits do not have a right to do so. Due to the boycott, no villager is ready to provide milk, water or food items to us. Even auto drivers denied us ride till nearby Kadi town," said Vandana, another member of the Dalit community in the village.
"The upper caste members also stopped Dalits water from fetching water from the village well and directed others not to employ the members of the community as farm labourers," said Chirag Solanki, a Dalit activist.
The incident came to light when a few members of the Dalit community called the local police and narrated their ordeal.
The police then arrested five men, including sarpanch Vinuji Thakor and deputy sarpanch Baldeo Thakor. "Five persons including village sarpanch Vinuji Thakor and deputy sarpanch Baldeo Thakor have been arrested under atrocity act," Deputy Superintendent of Police Manjita Vanzara was quoted as saying by TOI.
The accused have been charged under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for intentionally breaching peace and criminal intimidation. They have also been charged under the Indian Penal Code.