Holding late marriages responsible for elopement and “love jihad”, a BJP legislator from Madhya Pradesh on Saturday said that he supports early marriages because child marriages, including those involving grooms and brides who never saw each other before, used to last “forever”, unlike divorces that are commonplace today. “Earlier girls and boys used to marry before they turned 18 and 21. Marriages were fixed when they used to be of tender age, and did not go astray…or (they did not) think of anyone else. Now they meet at coaching classes and some fall prey to vices like ‘love jihad’,’’ BJP MLA from Agar, Gopal Parmar, told The Sunday Express while defending the comments he made at a government function in Agar town.
Linking late marriages to “love jihad” — a term used by Hindutva forces for marriages between Hindu women and Muslim men — the BJP leader said girls are “emotional” and that they “get carried away” when someone offers to help them by changing name and identity. “I married as a child, and I ensured that marriages of my children — two daughters and a son — were fixed before they attained the legal age of marriage,” Parmar, 53, said. “They are all happy.”
Stating that no one had heard of divorces when child marriages were practised, Parmar said, “The groom and bride used to be unfamiliar with each other, but marriages would work because parents used to apply their mind and fix marriages between compatible children.” Drawing a parallel between tethered cattle and children, he said, “Once the marriage is fixed, they know where to return.’’ Parmar said he would not make a recommendation in writing to the government to lower the legal age of marriage but expects parents to fix marriage of their children much before so that they do not go astray.