A silent and unique social transformation is sweeping the Muslim community in Jharkhand’s Palamu region, with hundreds of families returning dowry they had taken during their sons’ weddings.
Over the last one year, around 800 families came out in the open about accepting dowry and have subsequently returned the money. To date, over Rs 6 crore in cash has been returned to the brides’ families.
This process kicked off once Haji Mumtaj Ali, a native of Pokhari village in Latehar, launched a campaign against dowry in April last year. Following his footsteps, the community elders waged a war against dowry, a social evil plaguing the lives of thousands of families, especially the poor. The ‘maulvis’, too, resolved not to solemnise ‘nikah’ where any exchange of dowry was involved.
“The success of our campaign against dowry is astounding. So far, over 800 grooms’ families in Latehar and Palamu districts have returned Rs 6 crore in cash to the brides’ families. More importantly, the marriages are now being solemnised without any exchange of money,” said Ali, who was busy preparing for a massive community meeting at Daltonganj on March 7.
“The war against dowry will eat up poor families like cancer till it is completely wiped out. There are still a few families who are yet to give up the evil practice. Earlier, the Muslim community did not pay dowry, but of late, dowry has become a part of marriages, in the process badly hampering the sanctity of this sacred bond,” Ali said.
“We will also devise a strategy during the next meeting to tackle such families,” he said.
“I feel proud to declare that what I had done earlier was wrong. To make things correct, I am returning the money. I will never demand or offer dowry in future,” said Salim Ansari, who returned the dowry.