//Newlyweds face threat over inter-caste marriage

Newlyweds face threat over inter-caste marriage

Sunday May 14 2006 00:00 IST IANS

PATNA: An upper caste man and woman in Bihar are seeking security as they face threats to their lives from their own caste men for having married a Dalit and a backward caste person respectively against the wishes of their families.

Jai Prakash Singh, 32, who belongs to a landed upper caste – Bhumihar – dared to marry a Dalit girl, Bhago Devi, 26, in Ramdiree village near Motihari in eastern Champaran district. His own caste people have now threatened to kill him and his bride.

Similarly, Rupa Devi, 25, a Rajput, who married a backward caste Kushwaha boy in Sitamarhi district, has sought Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's intervention and police protection from her own family and caste people, who have also threatened to kill them.

The two cases are among dozens which surface across the state during the ongoing marriage season as inter-caste marriage is considered a crime here. The 'guilty' are either ostracised or have to face death as punishment and in most cases they run away to save their skin.

A person's caste identity is of utmost importance right from birth to death in the semi-feudal state of Bihar and any attempt to break age-old social barriers are dealt with severely.

Singh says people belonging to his own caste have threatened to kill his bride if she does not leave him in a couple of days. "Our caste men have given an ultimatum or to be ready to face death."

Ramdiree village is dominated by Bhumihars and this is the first time an upper-caste man has married a Dalit girl.

He tied the knot with Bhago Devi, a co-villager, on May 7 and filed a joint petition to the registrar for a court marriage as well. Singh has informed the local police and is likely to approach a court for their safety.

In the other case, Rupa Devi met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar a few days ago during his Janata Durbar (people's court) here to seek security for herself and her husband. "My own caste men are behaving like villains and have threatened to eliminate us," she said.'