Tension prevailed at Kundal village in Barmer district on Wednesday after the dominant Rajputs launched an agitation against an inter-caste marriage involving a woman from their community.
The woman absconded with her partner – a Meghwal Dalit – soon after their reported marriage on May 9. Her relatives responded by registering a case of kidnapping against the groom under Sections 363 and 366 of the Indian Penal Code, claiming that she was a “minor”.
However, police said the woman’s school transfer certificate clearly shows she was over 18.
The Rajput community has submitted a memorandum to the Barmer administration, demanding that they locate the “missing” girl. Police said the agitators also announced a partial bandh on Monday, which – fortunately – received a lukewarm response.
Balotra deputy superintendent of police Rajesh Mathur dismissed reports of Dalits being beaten up by members of the dominant caste during the bandh. “Those are just rumours. The bandh was unsuccessful, and no incident of violence was reported,” he said.
Many activists expressed concern for the village’s Dalit community on social media. Sudhindra from Barmer told HT that the police must brace themselves for the worst, given the delicate situation in the village. “Kundal is a Rajput stronghold. None of the Dalits are willing to speak up because they are terrified. Is the state waiting for another Dangawas to happen?” he asked.
PL Mimroth, chief functionary of the Centre for Dalit Rights in Jaipur, demanded increased security for the Dalit community in Kundal village. “These people are unwilling to accept inter-caste marriages even 69 years after Independence. We have seen many cases where Dalit men are harassed by relatives of upper-caste girls. The police must protect them,” he said.
The Barmer police say they have taken every precaution to ensure peace in the area. “We have deployed police personnel across the village, and intend to increase security levels at night too,” said Paris Deshmukh, Barmer superintendent of police.