Kathlal town in Kheda district remained closed on Wedneday as members of Patidar community called for a bandh after a Patidar woman reportedly eloped with a Dalit youth on November 11. The Patidars also staged a protest in the town against the alleged “inaction” of the police in finding the woman. Later, they submitted a memorandum to the district magistrate, threatening to boycott the Assembly polls if the woman is not “rescued” and returned to her family.
According to the police, the Patidar woman and the Dalit youth are consenting adults, who married against the knowledge of their parents as they feared a backlash from the community. While the woman is a doctor, the Dalit youth is an officer bearer of the BJP’s Kathlal unit, said police.
Police said that the couple had married three months ago and got it registered at Sojitra taluka of Anand district.
A senior police officer said that Patidar community has been pressurising the administration to invalidate the registered marriage of the couple.
“We have found out that the couple got married a few months ago and which has been entered in the marriage registrar’s books at Sojitra. But they continued to stay in their respective homes as they knew that the caste issue would create a problem. On November 11, they eloped and have been untraceable since,” said Kheda Superintendent of Police Maninder Partapsinh Pawar, Pawar said that the police had registered a station diary entry at the insistence of the woman’s family, but no case can be lodged against the couple since they are consenting adults.
“Through the friends of the couple, we are trying to ascertain their whereabouts so that we can inform the family of the woman that she has been found. We will try to talk to the couple to have a meeting with the family and resolve the issue. Since both of them are adults and they have married out of their choice, there is no legal case that can be filed against them. We have conveyed this to the family,” Pawar added.
While Patidars have been protesting against the inter-caste marriage, the Dalits community has not yet raised an objection to it. “In this case, both the man and woman have attained the legal age of marriage, and married out of their free will. If they choose to live together, the administration can’t interfere in this matter,” said District Magistrate of Kheda, Kuldeep Arya, who received the memorandum from the Patidar community members.
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