Marriage with a Gun to my Head

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A real shotgun wedding! These photos give a whole new meaning to the term 'shotgun wedding'.

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In Julie and Abhinay's Bihar what is bizarre is not the manner in which the couple walked down the aisle, but the police action that followed. Surprisingly, this is nothing unusual in Bihar as the state witnesses around 3, couples getting hitched in the same style, almost every year. Statistics boils down to nine such marriages a day. Known as Pakadwa Vivah marriage by abduction , the tradition is simple: zero-in on a prospective groom, kidnap him and make him tie the nuptial knot at gunpoint. And the numbers are in fact growing.

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Bihar witnessed 3, kidnapping for marriage in It was 3, in and 2, in And a majority of these marriages survive. Abduction for marriage appears to have remained unabated in too. According to figures available with the police, Bihar already has reported kidnappings for marriage by March this year.

On the other hand, only eight cases of kidnappings for ransom - which Bihar was once infamous for - have been registered during this period. Clearly, abduction for marriage is almost like an established, acceptable trend in Bihar.


The NCRB Crime in India Report, report - which is the most recent official figure available at present - also confirms that while Bihar is far below other States when it comes to abduction of boys below 18 years of age, it stands at the top in the country when it comes to abductions of above year-old males. In fact, the number of abducted males from Bihar in the 18 to 30 age-group category was 1, in The state alone accounted for nearly 17 per cent of the national figure in the category. It is a rearguard action from the bride's family, which finds itself under great material load while arranging the marriage.

In a traditionally patriarchal society like Bihar, marriages have become a money-minting enterprise for the boy's parents. So, families without wherewithal to arrange a decent dowry resort to desperate measures like abducting a suitable bridegroom for their daughter's marriage," says Ashok Priyadarshi, a teacher in Nawada, a district infamous for such marriages.

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Though illegal, dowry is an inevitable traditional marriage practice by which the groom's family demands enormous sums of money and goods from the bride's family as a condition for letting their son marry her. Families resort to snatch men - often young boys- because it is easier than approaching boy's families and cheaper than paying the standard "dowry," which is in lakhs plus a vehicle. Kamta Singh, Chairman of a Primary Agriculture Credit Society in Rampur, Navada claimed that almost 90 per cent marriages in the village have been solemnised by kidnapping a bridegroom.

A good number of boys are kidnapped and married off during matriculation and intermediate examinations when they visit the examination centres. In March, a year-old boy was kidnapped from Patna and married off to a year-old girl shortly after he reached the city with a cousin who was appearing for matriculation examination. The boy, a class XII student, was whisked away by four men on two bikes after smothering him unconscious with a chloroformed cloth.

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By the time the boy regained his senses, he was inside a house with lots of people around, who told him that he was now married. His clothes too were changed into bridal attire. Families often use friends and relatives, and sometimes even hire professional criminals, to carryout abductions for marriages. In May , criminals assigned to kidnap year-old Lalbabu for marriage, opened fire in Gaya to terrorise a group of students, who were with the victim as he came out from a coaching Centre.

Lalbabu's friend Praveen received a gunshot and succumbed to his injuries. A shocked Lalbabu was abducted by the criminals to a temple in Jehanabad district where he was forced to marry a year-old girl Babita under the shadow of a gun. The marriage, however, fell apart with the police registering murder cases against the bride's father and brother. Even security personnel themselves can be kidnapped by the criminals.

But the kidnappers set him free after realising that they could invite a police backlash. Once a boy is kidnapped and taken to a bride's home, his future in-laws try to calm him down by placing a wedding headgear onto his head. The embroidered headgear, called a Mauri, is a symbol of his submissive acceptance. Many fight fiercely, but every kidnapped boy eventually relents under duress.

In almost all such cases, the villagers extend support to the girl's family.

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The ceremony is videographed so that the tapes can be used as evidence later.

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