Speaking to a television channel, Bihar Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi said that while the government has taken note of the incident, such marriages cannot be said to have been culminated forcibly unless the aggrieved file a police complaint.
A video showing a 29-year-old engineer allegedly kidnapped and forced to marry a girl at gunpoint in Bihar’s capital city even as he kept crying and pleading to be released, sent shockwaves across the nation for the sheer audacity of the perpetrators. Even as reactions to the video continue to pour in from within the country and outside, the Bihar government’s response to the incident appears to be off the mark.
“How can one say that a marriage has been culminated by force unless someone files an FIR? The police can only act if it receives a complaint,” Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi told India TV. Admitting that there have been reports of such forced marriages from some areas of the state, Modi said that while the police act whenever information of such incidents is received, in most cases of such nature, the families of the bride and groom usually come to a consensus.
On Tuesday, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi raked up the issue to target the Centre for what he termed as its “over-enthusiasm” to tinker with Muslim personal laws while turning a blind eye to incidents of forced marriage in Bihar. Responding to the criticism, Sushil Modi said that such marriages could not be termed as forced marriages unless an aggrieved party files a police complaint. Moreover, he said, these are not inter-caste and that the families usually reconcile their differences later.
“These are not inter-caste marriages. They happen within the same caste and families give their consent post-marriage. If there is any complaint filed, it will be acted upon,” he added.
The video that went viral last week shows Vinod Kumar, a junior manager at Bokaro Steel Plant, being thrashed and forced to perform wedding rituals in Patna’s Pandarak area. Speaking to the local media, Vinod said that one of the bride’s relatives had pointed a pistol at him after they met at a mutual friend’s wedding and ordered him to marry her. His allegations are being investigated by the police.
According to Vinod’s family, they have been getting threat calls after the incident asking them to accept the girl. On Monday, he moved court seeking stringent action against the culprits.
‘Pakadua vivah’ or forcible wedding was a common practice in southeast Bihar but saw a decline after government initiatives and police tightening its grip on people abducting eligible bachelors for marriages to avoid paying dowry.