Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Sushil Kumar Modi might be claiming that law and order situation has significantly improved in the state after Nitish Kumar took charge as Chief Minister in 2005 but the rising number of abduction for marriage cases paint a bleak picture about the state’s deteriorating law and order situation. Modi also had stated that Bihar has become free from kidnapping but rising abduction incidents tell a grim story about the state. As per official data, more than 3,400 youths were kidnapped for forcible marriage in 2017.
Forced marriage is locally termed as Pakadwa Vivah in which a prospective groom is kidnapped and forcibly asked to get married at gunpoint. There has been a sharp rise in numbers of forced marriage by abduction in Bihar.
Bihar Social Welfare Minister Kumari Manju Verma said, “All these reports pertaining to forced abduction are rumours and there is no data to authenticate it. We have never heard of such incidents happening in any region of Bihar.”
As per reports, the state has witnessed 3,075 cases of kidnapping for marriage in 2016, 3,001 incidents in 2015, 2,533 in 2014 and 2,922 in 2013. As a result of this, Bihar residents, employed in other states, are unwilling to return to their home state. Many of them have got married, started family and plan to settle outside Bihar. On one hand, there has been a surge in forcible kidnapping cases for marriage and on the other hand divorce rates are increasing in urban areas of Bihar. The state has higher urban rates of divorce as compared to rural areas.
Shyama Singh, BJP Vice President, Gaya, Bihar said that forceful abduction used to happen earlier in Bihar as minors used to be kidnapped and their distant relatives used to marry them off forcibly. “Often couples elope, get married and parents file kidnapping complaint with the police station adding to the list of forceful abduction for marriage cases. A probe must be conducted to know about the actual number of such incidents happening in the state,” she added. She also said, “Rising divorce rates is definitely a cause of concern and according to me, the reason is that parents are forcibly asking their children to get married without their consent. We are trying to create awareness among parents asking them to arrive at a consensus with children before asking them to get married.” She further stated that parents too need to take into consideration their children’s consent before taking major decisions of their lives.
Improved educational facilities and rising employment opportunities has led to rising nuclear families and collapse of joint families. Today working couples aspire for better lifestyle and small families with few children.
Abhay Singh, a start-up employee working in Mumbai, said that groom kidnapping is not a new phenomenon in Bihar and it has been happening since ages. “Earlier these incidents were restricted to remote areas and now it has become rampant. Just like groom kidnapping incidents are rising, in the same manner divorce rates are increasing in urban areas,” he said.
Rising expectations of couples from marriage too has led to increasing divorce rates. Today couples are unwilling to make adjustment for making their marriage work. Due to long working hours couples are unable to spend quality time with each other and thereby affecting their marital lives.
Sunita Lal Das, a Trainee Advocate at Bombay High Court said that even though she is not a victim of such incidents but still she doesn’t want to get married in Bihar. She said, “Something is seriously wrong with the generation. In some cases, a part of Bihar girls are happy that grooms are getting kidnapped and on the other hand many others are career oriented and they are unhappy with their marriage as they dump their partners.”
When we tried to contact IAS officials from various parts of Bihar, they denied about the occurrence of abduction incidents and refused to comment about it.