Following a panchayat direction, a man in Vidisha district of Madhya Pradesh was about to marry off his minor daughter to “atone for his crime” of accidentally running over a calf, but the local administration and police managed to stop the marriage ceremony.
It is common practice in some parts of the state to impose social sanctions on individuals or families for accidentally killing cows. The sanctions include asking the “culprit” to take a dip in the Ganga and throw a feast for villagers. Occasionally, the culprit is asked to marry off his daughter, irrespective of her age, because the villagers believe kanyadaan in the culprit’s family is the only way to get rid of the “sin”.
In-charge of Pathariya police station B D Singh told The Indian Express that a few months ago, the man was riding his two-wheeler when it accidentally hit a calf and it died. Subsequently, he took a dip in the Ganga and was also ready to throw a feast but the villagers refused to turn up and said he will have to marry off his daughter.
After receiving a tip-off that the girl is a minor, a team of the state Women and Child Development (WCD) department and police reached the village on Friday. The family resisted the administrative action and refused to admit that the girl is minor.
WCD supervisor Anita Mourya said the sub-divisional magistrate asked her to rush to the village to check on a tip-off about child marriage. She said the girl and her parents are illiterate and could not provide documents to support their claim that she is a major. Her Aadhaar card mentions the date of birth as January 1, 2007, which makes her just 13, she said.
Mourya said wedding preparations were on and lots of relatives were present when the team reached the village. The team was told that the groom was on his way. “We had no option but to stop the illegal wedding because the girl is a minor,’’ she said.
The team took a written undertaking from the family members that the girl will not be married off till she turns 18. Mourya said no case was registered against the family. She said she was not aware of the killing of the calf and did not inquire.
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