After Jat Sikh kills self upon discovering wife is Dalit, his brother refuses to marry her
Nearly a week after an upper caste Jat Sikh farmer committed suicide on discovering that his bride’s mother was a Dalit, his younger brother threatened to take the extreme step too if the widow is married to him or any cousin living in their native Khai village of this district.
So deep runs the upper-caste supremacy in the Malwa belt of rural Punjab that 22-year-old Manpreet Singh Brar’s younger brother, Kuldeep, 19, threatened to commit suicide if the family tried to solemnise the marriage of his brother’s widow with any of his cousins too.
The widow has since left the village and returned to her parent’s place in Sangrur.
While Manpreet’s father is hospitalised after the suicide, his mother is not in a condition to talk. A cousin of the brothers, Rajpal Kaur, 40, said the family was in a fix after the younger brother’s ultimatum. “Kuldeep says when his elder brother ended his life because he was married to a Dalit woman, how can he marry her? We don’t want Manpreet’s widow to spend her life elsewhere. She is the daughter-in-law of this house. We want her to settle down here. But Kuldeep has rejected our proposal.”
The family thought of arranging the girl’s wedding with another cousin of Manpreet in the village but Kuldeep’s threat has made them wary.
Manpreet got married on May 21 and consumed poison on May 28 after visiting his in-laws. He died the same night. He took the step after he learnt that his wife’s mother belonged to the Ramdasia community. In his suicide note, he wrote, “I am Manpreet Singh Brar. My matchmaker Gurtej Singh Baba arranged my match. I am a Jat boy and my father-in-law is also a Jat, but his wife is a Ramdasia. I was told that they (his wife and mother in-law) are also Jats.”
Ramdasia is a Sikh sub-group that originated from the Hindu caste of weavers known as julaha.
Though Manpreet’s family does farming on less than an acre, he was pursuing a diploma in nursing and working at a private clinic.
His cousin Rajpal says, “Manpreet demanded nothing in dowry but he wanted a girl from a Jat Sikh family. When he went to his in-laws house the second time, he came to know that his mother-in-law was a Ramdasia. He had no dispute with his wife but he wanted punishment for the matchmaker.”
She alleged that the matchmaker, Gurtej Singh Baba, took Rs 45,000 to find the match.
Satpal Singh Kala, another cousin of Manpreet, said, “The girl’s family organised a small function but we invited 300 people for the wedding. The anand karaj (wedding as per Sikh rituals) was performed in a gurdwara in Sangrur. We were not introduced to the girl’s family earlier. Now his wife has gone back to her parents. Everyone is upset.”