They say marriages are made in heaven. But this one was kindled on the web, and blossomed in prison.
The groom came in a police van handcuffed, the bride with her parents in a car. The marriage registrar after going through their documents declared them husband and wife.
But this was no regular wedding. They fell in love on Facebook, he refused to marry her and she sent him to jail. But then, he had a change of heart. On Thursday, they wed in Dhanbad.
Unlike other couples who walk away from the ceremony hand-in-hand, this one parted ways. While the groom – 28-year-old Bihar engineer Ritesh Kumar -- went back to jail, the bride – 23-year-old Sudipti Kumari -- returned home with her parents.
The bride’s father, Haradhan Mahali, told reporters he respected her sentiments and love for Ritesh.
“When the offer for marriage came, I couldn’t say no. Now my priority would be to unite them at the earliest,” he said. The couple may finally be united when the case next comes up for hearing on Monday. The groom’s mother refused comment.
Theirs is a love-hate-love relationship that culminated in marriage after a lot of upheavals, family members say.
The duo first met on Facebook in 2012 and chatted for long hours before they met, sources said. Soon the couple found themselves falling in love. Ritesh, who was working with the National Thermal Power Station in Kahalgaon, Bihar, would often visit Dhanbad to see her.
They also apparently married in a temple secretly. However, when Sudipti asked Ritesh to formally marry him, he refused arguing if he married her, his mother, Anita Devi would commit suicide.
Feeling cheated, Sudipti, who is Dalit, filed a case of sexual harassment under the ST/SC act against Ritesh in February 2017. Police picked up Ritesh from Kahalgoan on the basis of the complaint and sent him to jail.
But the story didn’t end here. Friends of the couple say Sudipti had a change of heart and visited Ritesh in jail occasionally. Weeks later, Ritesh asked her to marry him and she accepted.
Ritesh applied for marriage from jail through court about a month ago. After getting the due permissions, families of the two met and reached the court on Thursday for the wedding.
Ritesh had to go back to jail after the legal wedding as he faces charges under Sections 326 and 493 of IPC, besides the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, and his bail was rejected in the past.
Ritesh’s lawyer Abhay Bhatt said marriage was allowed as both Ritesh and Sudipti were adults but to get the groom out of jail would be more difficult. “However, since court has already rejected the bail application, we will have to see how the case ends in favor of Ritesh and how he could be bailed out from jail,” the lawyer said. On Monday, Sudipti is expected to record her statement and the judge might decide to release Ritesh.