Dharmendra Parmar was thrashed for riding horse in Madhya Pradesh village during marriage procession.

Pushed off a horse by Rajput men during his wedding procession last week, Dharmendra Parmar, who belongs to an OBC community, realised the worth of his education and job only then.

“They are threatened by our assertion, and rise up the social ladder. Why should we consult them for every decision since we are educated?” asked Mr. Parmar, 28, who holds M.Com and B.Ed. degrees, and is employed at a cooperative bank. “We refused to work their fields too, which riled them further.”

The only Parmar family of Bhadwasa village of Agar Malwa district in Madhya Pradesh owns 9.5 bighas of land, a well, two buffaloes, two cows and 15 goats, four houses and two motorcycles. This accumulation of wealth over time piqued the Rajputs, the dominant community in the village, said Mr. Parmar, who earns ₹12,000 every month.

“You expect us to own a tractor? We’d not be allowed to live here if we had one,” chuckled Saraswati Bai, his mother.

Kaluram Parmar, his father, said the situation was better 35 years ago when he got married. “I was riding a horse without any qualms. But suddenly, five of my Rajput friends sprang up from nowhere and pulled me off the horse. They dragged me, and I resisted. In the beginning, I was shy, but I gave in. We danced together, drenched in sweat.”

On November 30, his son was pushed off the horse for a different reason. As he took out his wedding procession, Rajput men tore his shirt, thrashed his father, pelted stones on guests and battered their cars and motorcycles, as Mr. Parmar was riding a horse.

The procession was the first one after 20 years to be taken out by a backward community in the village that did not go on motorcycles or tractors, according to the Rajput diktat, said sarpanch Kailash Malviya, who hails from a Dalit community. “The family was warned by Rajputs, but they challenged them to stop it,” he said.

“How dare they flout the norms of the village?” asked Rajendra Singh, a Rajput, who’d rented out the sound system for the marriage. “Only Rajputs have the right to ride a horse. They hurt our honour. After the scuffle, they even dialed 100, just to instigate us. What happened was a natural consequence of all this,” said Mr. Singh. When the police arrived, the 11 accused, now arrested, tried to snatch their rifles too.

Friends for 20 years, both Mr. Dharmendra and Mr. Singh played cricket together in childhood, but after the incident, Mr. Singh changed tack. “To hell with friendship. Tradition matters more. Our brothers and uncles are in jail now.” The 150 Rajput families of the village are pooling funds to get the accused bail. Meanwhile, the 200 SC, ST and OBC families have sided with the Parmar family.

“It was the first marriage in the family after 18 years,” said Saraswati Bai, Mr. Parmar’s mother. “We didn’t see this coming. His cousin sister in Bhopal had gifted him a white shirt and a blazer for the marriage,” she said, sombrely, clutching the torn shirt.

As the procession was taken to Pagaria in Rajasthan under police protection later, several villagers back home played the story on WhatsApp: “Wearing Rajput jewellery and clothes, won’t make you one. You also need the ego of one.”

Asked the reason for the exclusive claim of Rajputs over riding horses, Raghuvir Singh Sisodia, a farmer, said, “Maharana Pratap is imagined only riding his horse – Chetak. Hence Rajputs are associated with horses. Elders will be able to explain better. When asked, an 81-year-old man said, “Our elders told us only we had a right over riding horses. It’s our duty to maintain the order in society”

On the other hand, Mr. Dharmendra claimed the Rajputs didn’t heed history, as when Maharana Pratap was jailed in the Chittor fort, the Parmars, traditional ironsmiths, broke his shackles and rescued him.

Source: Read Full Article