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Dalit grooms on mares beaten up

Jaipur, March 7: The wedding procession of two Dalit brothers on horseback was stoned by upper-caste Hindus, who forced the bridegrooms to dismount, dragged them and beat them up.

Nanag Ram and Bhura Lal, the brothers from the Bairva community, were attacked for daring to ride mares to their wedding on Wednesday.

The incident took place at Barthala village in Tonk, represented by deputy chief minister Banwari Lal Bairva.

The issue rocked the Assembly today as soon as question hour ended and deputy Speaker Devendra Singh tried to take up the agenda for the day. Agitated Opposition members, led by Independent MLA Surendra Vyas, however, demanded and got an immediate statement from home minister Gulab Singh Shaktawat.

The minister conceded that the assault did take place, injuring seven members of the marriage procession. Police today arrested six of the seven accused named in the FIR, he added.

Senior district officials, including the superintendent and additional collector, have reached the spot to take stock of the situation. Additional police forces have been posted in the village, he added.

But the minister failed to produce a copy of the FIR and details of the medical examinations of the victims. This further provoked Vyas, Ram Pratap of the BJP and several others, who pointed out that the arrests were made only after the incident was reported in local newspapers.

Members also said that the local deputy superintendent of police reached the spot 10 hours after the incident. Junior officials, including the BDO and tehsildar who were present at the spot, only ensured that the procession reached the venue of the wedding.

Vyas asked if it was true that the deputy chief minister had informed the home minister of the incident the same night but no action was taken.

When a provoked Bairva, who had been silent throughout the debate, stood up to speak, several ministers were seen asking him not to intervene. He then sat down.

However, when Opposition members took exception to this development, an emotional Bairva said he was pained to see such incidents taking place after more than 50 years of independence and abolition of the feudal system in the state.

He held the BJP responsible, alleging that it was trying to become a vociferous champion of the Hindu society that has yet to get rid of its subjugation of Dalits.

This was followed by noisy scenes. Vyas pointed out that in a written reply to one of his questions yesterday, the state government had conceded that as per the report of the National Bureau of Crimes, Rajasthan topped the list of atrocities on Dalits.

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