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Runaway brides leave Rajasthan men high and dry

Skewed sex ratio forces locals to find a match for money only to be hitched with a decoy, robbed of money

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Radhika Bhatnagar

Updated: Jun 30, 2013, 01:41 PM IST

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For most of us, sex ratio figures are usually nothing more than yesterday’s news. But for certain communities across Rajasthan, the growing disparity between the sexes has manifested itself in strange ways. Rajkumar belongs to one such community in Dausa where the scarcity of marriageable girls led his family to get his match arranged through a middleman for a sum of Rs 2.5 lakhs. But the day after the wedding, his bride and her family members fled, taking with them money and valuables such as jewellery and gifts.

Apparently, the girl’s side wasn’t paid the full amount and had decamped without trying to sort out the matter. Rajkumar’s case is not in isolation; of late, a number of young grooms across the state have found themselves duped by their prospective brides and their families.

“This is definitely an unusual phenomenon,” said SN Khinchi, SP Dausa, talking about Rajkumar’s predicament. “We are investigating the matter,” he added. But these so-called brides are often one step ahead of the authorities, changing their modus-operandi in each case and covering their tracks very carefully. What makes matters worse is the involvement of middlemen or ‘dalals’, who often end up playing a double game and cheat both parties!

Last year, at a wedding in Dwarapura village of Dausa, the groom and his family were in for a rude shock. The moment the boy was about to put the garland around his bride he realised that she was not the girl who had been shown to him earlier when the match was fixed.

Allegedly, the middleman who had charged Rs3 lakh from the boy’s family had made them meet another girl so that he could lure the boy into getting married (and paying up) and had later changed the girl, thinking that no one would notice! Recently, in Udaipur, another runaway bride was reported fleeing right before the wedding evealed that all details furnished by the girl’s family were false. It is suspected to be have been the work of a gang of such ‘brides’ - supposedly with links in Madhya Pradesh - that has duped families from Saira, Hiran Magri and Gogunda regions of Udaipur last year.

“For the past twenty days, the girl and her family have been absconding. In fact, two other girls of her family have also run away from their in-laws homes with jewellery and valuables after the incident,” reveals sub-inspector Hanuwant Singh who is investigating the matter. It is possible that Rajkumar’s bride also belongs to the same gang.

Apparently, she was one of the 10 girls from Indore who had been living at the hotel for a fortnight; all of whom had been brought there by these middlemen for matches fixed for a certain sum of money. In fact, when Rajkumar’s bride did not show up, the middleman promptly produced another girl in her place!

“Even though this situation might have taken birth out of the desperately low sex ratio, these are crimes committed out of sheer greed,” says Udaipur SP, Hari Prasad Sharma, adding that it all boils down to one’s social and moral values. “This kind of exploitation is unacceptable.” However, activists working on trafficking and cross-region matches warn against over-simplifying the issue.

“Because of the skewed ratio, cross-region matches are now common in regions such as Jhunjhunu, Alwar, Dholpur etc,” points out social worker Ashfaq Kayamkhani. In fact, ‘Tied in a Knot’, a recent study that examines the cross-region marriage phenomenon found that at least 200,000 women have moved to the states of Haryana and Rajasthan alone in the past five years. “There might be some women who are exploiting the situation to their advantage, but there are many more instances of these cross-regional women facing exploitation at the hands of their in-laws and society at large,” warns an activist who didn’t want to be named.

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