Take 1: Julie, a 19-year old girl, in her lovely bridal attire is waiting for her groom. The groom Abhinay Kumar, a 22-year-old young man arrives and exchanges garland and ties the nuptial knot with Julie. The marriage mantras are over. They are a married couple now.
Take 2: The police arrives on the scene. They are searching for the groom. The groom Abhinay Kumar was actually kidnapped by Julie’s family and was forced to marry her at gun point. Abhinay’s parents still want to rescue him from the forced marriage. But, the police cannot do anything now. Julie and Abhinay are lawfully wedded now. Though the police comes again later with more numbers, creating a havoc in the girl’s house, injuring relatives and friends, including Julie, Abhinay Kumar has no other option but to accept Julie as his wife.
Straight out of a Hindi movie, isn’it ? But this is not a movie scene. This is reality. This actually did happen in Muzaffarpur, a small town in Bihar, on 25 May 2017.
Marriage by abduction soars in Bihar
Every year, about 3000 couples in the state are forced into marriage by kidnapping the groom. In 2016, 3075 grooms were kidnapped. In 2015, 3001 and in 2014, 2533 grooms were kidnapped and forced into marriage by the brides’ families at gun point. On an average, there are 9 marriages of such types taking place everyday in Bihar. In fact, kidnapping for marriage has become an acceptable trend in Bihar. Such a marriage is referred as Pakadwa Vivah. In 2017 too the trend continues, the latest being the Pakadwa Vivah of Julie and Abhinay. Till March 2017, more that 800 cases have already been registered with the police, out of which only 8 cases are cases of kidnappings for ransom. The rest are cases of kidnappings for marriage. The state alone accounted for nearly 17% of the national figure according to national crime report. All boys abducted are in the ages of 17 to 30 years. So, it is a fact that marriage by abduction soars in Bihar. In spite of police interference, it has become a growing trend in Bihar as most of these marriages survive in the long run.
Some more cases
- In March 2017, a 17-year-old class 12 student was kidnapped and forcefully married to a 15-year-old girl in Patna. He was taken away by four men on two bikes after he was knocked unconscious. By the time, he regained consciousness, he was already married and in his wedding dress.
- Sometimes, families hire professional criminals to carryout kidnappings for marriages.
- In May 2009, a 16-year-old Lalbabu in Gaya was kidnapped by professional kidnappers for marriage. In fact they opened fire to terrorize the groom’s friends who were with him at that time. One of Lalbabu’s friends Praveen died after he received a gun shot. Lalbabu was then forced to marry a 13-year-old Babita at gun point in a temple in Jehanabad district.
- Once, the bodyguard of a Bihar Cadre IPS officer was abducted when he was posted in Jamalpur.
- There was another case where three brothers of the same family were kidnapped and forced into marriage at gun point. However, all the three brothers are now happily married and settled with their wives.
Cause of abduction for marriage: Dowry
One direct cause for the growing trend of abduction of grooms for marriage in Bihar is the increased growth of dowry demands in the state. It is a known fact that Bihar is a traditionally patriarchal society and dowry has become a money-minting business for the parents of eligible bachelors. As a result, girls remain unmarried as their parents cannot afford to meet the demands of such grooms. In many cases, the girls’ families when they cannot arrange a decent dowry resort to such illegal measures like kidnapping a suitable boy for their daughter’s marriage.
The practice of abduction for marriage is actually illegal, but no law has been enforced for the same. Though the custom is brutal, at the end, it is considered as practical too. The reason being in most cases, there is reconciliation between the bride’s and the groom’s families and both husband and wife live happily ever after.