Bihar’s ‘Pakadua Vivah’: A tradition still prevalent among upper castes
Sambhu Yadav, 27, was returning home after meeting his sister on Raksha Bandhan when an SUV suddenly pulled up near him in Bihar’s Munger district in August 2019. Within seconds, some unknown men dragged him into the SUV and took him to an unknown destination, where he was blindfolded, and his hands were tied. Yadav, who was kept in a dark room overnight, found himself at a temple the next day with a woman in bridal make-up sitting next to him. Before he could gather his wits, the temple priest began reciting hymns as two to three gun-trotting men oversaw their marriage.
Such forced marriages, or Pakadua Vivah, are not isolated but part of a tradition in Bihar’s Begusarai, Munger, Banka, Khagaria, Madhepura, Purnia, Jehanabad, Jamui. Often eligible bachelors are abducted and forced to marry women, whose families cannot afford dowries. Forced marriages were so rampant in the early 1990s in Begusarai that a film, Antardwand, was made on them in 2010. The movie won a national award.
According to the State Crime Record Bureau, 7,194 forced marriage cases were reported in the state between January and November 2020, 10,925 in 2019, 10,310 in 2018, 8,972 in 2017. Criminal gangs are often used to kidnap men and force them into wedlock. A large number of such cases go unreported given the fear of these gangs.
Pakadua Vivah was again in the news this month when Shivam Kumar, 21, was kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to marry a woman in Bihar’s Jamui district on January 7. Similarly, Vaishali-resident Vikash Kumar was abducted around a month earlier on December 14, and forced into wedlock.
Pakadua Vivah is more prevalent among the upper castes, where the demand for dowry is more. “It is mainly prevalent among Bhumihars and Yadav castes,” said a police officer.
Police officers say gangs thrive on these high-profit and low-risk crimes and make huge money. They added such forced marriage ceremonies are invariably video-graphed. The gangs ensure such marriages are fully solemnised and brides are sent to their in-laws’ homes. Often such marriages last. Shivam Kumar has since left for Hyderabad with his newlywed wife to join the as a general duty soldier. Yadav, who runs an ice cream parlour, too, has no regrets. He said he got a sociable, pretty wife.
But a 17-year-old abducted for marriage on January 19 was rescued in Lakhisarai and his five abductors were arrested.
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