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35 poor girls tie knot at mass wedding

Wednesday 8 June 2005, by SHASTRI*Lalit

SUTANPUR (MADHYA PRADESH): The scorching summer heat on Wednesday afternoon was no deterrent for villagers who had come in large numbers to attend a mass wedding ceremony at Sultanpur, 75 km from Bhopal. The ceremony was organised by the president of the Madhya Pradesh unit of Bharatiya Janata Party, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, for 35 rural girls belonging to the weaker and economically deprived sections of society.

Waiting to receive the grooms at the crowded venue for the ceremony, Mr. Chauhan told journalists that it was in 1990, when he was an MLA, that he had taken up the full responsibility of marrying off an orphan girl at village Borna. From 1994 onwards, he has devotedly followed this up by organising the mass wedding ceremony for poor girls, he said and added that his wife as well as friends and well- wishers had continuously stood by him when it came to working for this social cause. This time, 35 girls were being married under one roof, he said and went on to inform that care had been taken to ensure that all the brides were above 18 and the grooms above 21. Sixteen of the 35 brides belonged to the Scheduled Tribes, six to the Scheduled castes and the rest were from the other backward classes, he added.

Mr. Chauhan told journalists that even after their wedding the couples were maintaining contact with him and he was also doing every thing within his means to help them whenever they were facing any difficulty. He said that this year’s ceremony was unique since the "Nikah" (wedding) of three Muslim girls was also being performed on this occasion.

The family members of the three Muslim brides, Taslim Bee, Jaitun Bee and Mehrum Bee, all from Sultanpur appeared pleased with the arrangements. When asked to share their views, their common remark was that Mr. Chauhan’s initiative would go a long way in building communal amity.

Rambai was one of the many women waiting under the huge canopy of leaves specially erected to provide shade to thousands of people who had gathered for the mass wedding. When approached by this correspondent, she introduced herself as the mother of one of the brides, Sunita Bai from Sodhra village in Raisen district.

See online : The Hindu

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