|Priti Kumari has been sitting on hunger strike |
outside her inlaws’ home in Bihar for the past three days
Patna: A newly-wed woman in Bihar has been sitting on hunger strike outside her in-laws’ home for the past three days demanding that she be accepted as their “daughter-in-law”.
Priti Kumari led her own marriage procession on Valentine’s Day to the in-laws’ residence in Makdampur village, in central Bihar’s Begusarai district, hoping the move would bear fruit.
Bihar is a state in northeast India bordering Nepal. The Bihar mountains (below) are probably foothills to the Himilayas.
However, her in-laws have refused to recognise her marriage saying it was solemnised against their wishes.
Since then, Kumari has been on hunger strike vowing to die rather than return to her parents’ home.
The issue has baffled local authorities.
Reports said a local schoolteacher Dheeraj Kumar, son of Arjun Thakur, was kidnapped on April 21 last year and forced to marry Kumari against his wishes.
The young man alleges that he was beaten up after he refused to marry her.
Soon after the marriage, he was allowed to go home but he later refused to take in his “wife” despite repeated phone calls and pleadings by the girl’s family.
As all efforts to win back the confidence of the groom fell flat, Kumari, supported by the State Women Commission and other women’s organisations, led her wedding procession to her in-laws’ residence on February 14 with a large number of women joining the procession.
However, the groom’s family was yet to open the gate of their house for the “bride”. They refused to recognise her as their daughter-in-law denying any such marriage had been solemnised.
Kumari then launched her hunger strike, which was ongoing at the time of reporting.
On Monday, a team of district officials led by local block development officer Ashok Kumar rushed to the site of the hunger strike and tried hard to broker peace between the warring sides but failed.
The local administration has even deployed police officers to ensure the safety of the bride on strike and a health official to keep a check on her health.
“I will prefer death than returning to my parents’ home. A Hindu girl is married only once in her lifetime,” Priti told the media on Tuesday, adding she would not take any food until she was accepted by her in-laws.
However, her “husband” refused to accept her.
“I was forced to marry her under pressures. The police had even arrested three people on the basis of my complaint and the case is still pending in court. There is no meaning for such marriage,” Kumar said.
“Pakadua vivah” or forced marriage is quite common in parts of Bihar, and according to a latest police report, a total of 2,533 people were kidnapped for marriage in Bihar last year.
This is a very awkward and unfortunate situation, and my heart goes out to Priti. She is pretty, and very young, and thinks her life is over if her unwilling 'husband' doesn't take her in. The report, unfortunately, doesn't tell us if the marriage was consummated or not. But it seems that if she is a virgin that another marriage would not be that big a problem.
It would be nice if some knight in shining armor were to offer this child an education, a career, and hope for a life not dependent on a husband who doesn't want her. Any knights out there?