Kurukshetra: A Dalit man's bid to ride a horse-drawn carriage to his wedding - traditionally a privilege of the upper castes - almost ended in disaster at a village in Haryana. The groom's procession was attacked and the police had to be called in to ensure that the wedding take place.
- Groom's father alleges stones were thrown at them by upper caste people
- 21 people booked under SC/ST Act but no arrests made so far
- Police deployed in Haryana's Bhusthala village as a precautionary measure
Three days on, tension is simmering in Kurukshetra's Bhusthala village, about 130 km from state capital Chandigarh.
Twenty men belonging to upper castes have been booked under the Scheduled Castes Act, four have been arrested. The Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes has taken note of the incident.
The village had seen similar scenes in 2003, when a Dalit groom, a police constable, had tried to ride a horse. He had to threaten suicide and seek help from senior officers before the matter was resolved.
This time, 24 year-old Sandeep Kumar's family had to agree not to hold the wedding at the temple frequented by upper castes - that was the price of allowing him to ride a horse. But still, the wedding procession was attacked while on its way to the Valmiki temple.
Groups of upper caste men allegedly gathered and pelted the groom and the wedding guests with stones. And the police had to be called in to ensure safety.
"We could not celebrate the wedding," said Sandeep's sister-in-law Kulwinder. "We are still living in fear because they will not let us live in peace."
Village sarpanch Rajender Singh said the incident has brought a lot of disrepute to the village. "The Dalits have every right to ride horse-drawn carriage. We will ensure this doesn't happen again. We will call in police if the situation demands."
Mr Kumar, though, says he has had enough. "If I get a job or a better opportunity, I will quit this village. There's no life here for us. We are humiliated here," added the young man, who works as a daily wager.