Pawan Malviya was forced to replace his orange saafa with a helmet after stones were hurled at him by upper caste men, who objected to him riding a horse to his wedding in the Ratlam district of Madhya Pradesh.
Customarily, Dalits grooms are not allowed by the upper caste to mount a horse during their wedding procession and any attempt at breaking the regressive tradition is often met with severe penalties and social ostracism. Although some in the past have defied the ban.
Malviya's wedding procession, which was heading from Bercha village to Negroon village, was attacked with stones on Sunday night. Some of his family members sustained injuries.
"They are not allowing us to take out the procession," Malviya told Aaj Tak News when he was still wearing his orange saafa. "They are forcing the horse caretakers and the DJ to flee."
"We were apprehensive about the attack but nothing happened in the beginning. As we crossed the panchayat chouraha, stones were pelted on us. As a safety measure, the groom was forced to wear a helmet instead of a toran," R. Malviya, the groom's cousin, told India Today.
In a compromise reached before the wedding, the upper caste families had settled on closing the doors of their houses to avoid seeing the procession, but they still ended up blocking the groom's wedding party at the village square and pelting them with stones, NDTV reported.
Aaj Tak reported that the bride's family had complained to the authorities about the intimidation by the upper-caste families on May 6, and police was deployed in the village for three days before the wedding, but the horrifying incident still played out. Eventually, the wedding was held under police protection.
News channels provided varying figures of the arrests.
IBN-Live reported that 27 villagers were arrested for stone-pelting and rioting. "The upper caste community of the villager opposed Dalit groom riding horse. Police reached the spot and provided protection to the groom and procession. We will take strict action against stone pelters," a police official said.