‘Lonely’ 70-year-old held for trying to wed teen

September 17th, 2008 - 3:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Sep 17 (IANS) A 70-year-old former government employee was arrested for trying to marry a 15-year-old girl who walked off minutes before the ceremony when she learnt her groom was an old man. Sunder Bhagat, a grandfather who used to work in electricity department, was arrested Tuesday - a day after 15-year-old Kanchan Kumari stunned her family in Jaitiya village near Patna by refusing to marry him.

Kanchan’s aunt Maracho Devi has also been arrested for her alleged role in arranging the marriage, police officials said. Under Indian law, the minimum age of marriage for a girl is 18 years.

The girl, clad in a traditional bright yellow sari, walked off minutes before the marriage was to be solemnised as the age of the groom had been concealed from her.

“My aunt never mentioned his age. When I was brought to the mandap (marriage platform) I was shocked to see the aged groom. I ran away from there and sought help of local people,” Kanchan told IANS.

She said her aunt had arranged the marriage and assured her of a happy life with a rich man.

Some local residents said Bhagat had paid Rs.100,000 to Kanchan’s family but this was denied by Bhagat.

“I am living alone for years here. I was feeling very lonely and decided to marry. I wanted to be looked after well in my old age,” Bhagat, a resident of Makhdumpur, said. His wife died about two decades ago and his son and grandchildren live in Ranchi, capital of neighbouring Jharkhand.

A relative, requesting anonymity, said: “Kanchan refused to marry and cried for help after she found out that the groom was an old man”.

Police is interrogating Bhagat, Maracho Devi as well as Kanchan and her mother Pramila Devi.

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