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350 cops in tow, UP Dalit groom takes historic ride in village

Sanjay Jatav became the first Dalit to take a wedding procession through the village of Nizampur in UP’s Kasganj district on Sunday

AGRA: Nizampur village of Kasganj district, which has been in news for the past six months after local Thakur community allegedly threatened to disrupt a Dalit wedding in the village, witnessed a peaceful wedding on Sunday in presence of a heavy police force as well as Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC).

For the villagers, it was history in the making as 27-year-old Sanjay Jatav, the Dalit groom who hails from the neighbouring district of Hathras, rode into the village on a horse-drawn buggy on Sunday afternoon. His smiling face regaled a posse of photographers and policemen present in the village as much as the 18-year-old bride, Sheetal Singh, who watched her own baraat on news channels.

“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,” Sanjay told TOI.

Sheetal, the bride, looked resplendent and excited. “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,” she said.

According to the district administration, Sanjay was received by Kasganj police personnel at the border of the two districts, from where he was escorted in an unprecedented security cover to the village.

Kasganj sub-divisional magistrate Devendra Pratap Singh told TOI, “Over 350 police personnel from six police stations along with PAC jawans accompanied by an ASP and two circle officers provided security to the Dalit family during the wedding procession. Armed policemen were deployed atop houses on the entire baraat route to avoid any untoward incident.”

Apart from police officials, additional district magistrate Rakesh Kumar, along with SDM Devendra Pratap Singh and naib tehsildar Kirti Chaudhary, too, were present at the venue since Sunday morning to monitor the situation in the village.

According to police sources, “The police personnel were deployed here since Saturday and sleuths of local intelligence unit were keeping a tab on the villagers’ movement. Metal detectors were deployed to frisk the guests attending the wedding.”

Ajay Kumar, a resident of Nizampur village, said, “We never saw such a tight security for a wedding. The entire stretch from Hathras-Kasganj border to Nizampur village was dotted with armed police personnel.”

Another village resident Sunil Singh said, “All the upper caste families had either locked themselves up inside their houses or had left the village for a day due to presence of heavy police force. The baraat took a tour of village on the pre-decided route which passed via houses of Thakurs.”

The controversy began when the dominant Thakurs opposed the wedding procession, saying it was against the traditions and had never happened in the village. Village head Kanti Devi, a Thakur by caste, too, had opposed it claiming that it could become a huge law and order problem. The wedding, originally scheduled on April 20, was delayed after a magistrate inquiry stated that the girl was not 18 yet.

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