Gujarat Dalits face boycott after bridegroom rides horse

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School children hold portraits of Bhim Rao Ambedkar, a prominent Indian freedom fighter, as they perform during Republic day celebrations in Bangalore, India, Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. India celebrated Friday's anniversary of its national constitution taking effect. Ambedkar who belonged to India's lowest Dalit caste, was the chief architect of the Indian Constitution that outlawed discrimination based on caste.(AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Ahmedabad:  Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel on Friday rushed to a North Gujarat village after reports of boycott of the Dalits by higher castes objecting to a youth of the community riding a horse in a marriage procession.

The Dalit community of Lhor village in Mehsana district, which is also the home district of the Deputy Chief Minister, was facing a boycott after a bridegroom rode a horse during his wedding procession.

According to the Dalits in the village, they were denied milk and other necessary grocery items from the market under the influence of the boycott. Even the autorickshaw drivers were not ready to give them ride out of fear.

“The wedding procession was taken out on Tuesday when the upper caste members objected to the boy riding a horse and asked the community to keep their aspirations in check,” a police officer said. The village head (sarpanch) Vinuji Thakor, who along with a few other village elders ordered the villagers to socially boycott the Dalit community, has been arrested, the police said.

“I came to know about the incident on Thursday night and decided to visit the village the next day,” informed Patel.

The Deputy Chief Minister said: “I talked with the villagers and the community heads for about one and a half hour and the Dalit community have demanded assured protection with respect to the incident to which they have my assurance.”

Meanwhile, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Ishwarbhai Parmar had ordered an inquiry into the incident on Thursday.

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