Five-month-old Suvesh was the youngest guest at the mass marriage for physically challenged couples in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district on Sunday.
Elegantly dressed, he was there to attend the marriage of his parents Bheem Chandelkar and Meena Yadav, blissfully unaware of the ordeal the couple had to undergo to solemnised their wedding.
The duo from Alampur village of the district, some 175 km from state capital Bhopal, wanted to tie the nuptial knot last year under the state government’s inter-caste marriage promotion scheme.
They eloped and filed a marriage application with the district administration under the welfare scheme implemented by the scheduled castes welfare department on March 6, 2016.
Under the scheme, a couple is given a cash reward of Rs 2 lakh and are also felicitated at a programme organised by the social justice department.
The administration fixed June 8 for their marriage. But on that day when they reached the collectorate office, to their horror they found their application had been rejected without assigning any reason. Nor they were informed beforehand about the decision that almost shattered their world.
As their marriage got entangled in administrative bind, they started a live-in-relationship with the hope to get married soon under the scheme.
In between, Meena gave birth to a baby in November, which only made things more difficult for the couple. “As I gave birth to a baby without getting married to Bheem, we were facing social boycott,” said Meena.
Bheem said their marriage application was turned down as they refused to bribe a clerk in the collectorate office.
“We are very poor. The clerk demanded Rs 3,000 as a bribe to process my application. But I refused to oblige him,” he said.
Bheem said he had even lodged complaints at the CM’s helpline against the district administration for not allowing them to marry.
As the couple was frantically moving from pillar to post seeking help, they met Betul collector Shashank Manohar on Thursday last.
Manohar advised them to get themselves registered for the Sunday’s event.
Talking to HT over phone Manohar said, “The couple came to me just a few days ago. So I asked them to register for the mass marriage for the physically challenged couples. I am also trying to ascertain whether there is truth in their bribe allegation and what caused the delay in the registration.”
On their part, the couple is happy to be wedded at last.