A man in Bihar’s Vaishali district has alleged he was kidnapped, threatened and forced to marry a school dropout against his will at gunpoint, a charge denied by the woman.

The 23-year-old woman, Priyanka Kumari, has claimed that the family of Durgesh Sharan, an engineer with the Indian Railways and posted at Samastipur diesel locomotive shed, had demanded a dowry for the wedding.

Priyanka, who dropped out of school after Class 10, said she knew Sharan, 30, and met him during a wedding ceremony about a year ago.

Mahua sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) Malti Kumari confirmed that Sharan was abducted and coerced into the ‘pakadua vivah’, and said they have sent him and the woman to a court in Vaishali to record their statements. The police would act on the court’s directive, she added.

Police have seized their cellphones and would send them to a forensic laboratory for a detailed examination.

Pakadua vivah or forcible wedding was a common practice in Bihar but saw a decline after government initiatives and police tightening its grip on people abducting eligible bachelors for marriages to avoid paying dowry.

The sub-divisional police officer said Sharan’s mother Veena Devi, a teacher at Chakmashood primary school, had lodged a complaint with Jandaha police station late on Saturday that her son was abducted by 11 men and identified five of them.

Police said Sharan was abducted when he was on his way to Vaishali on a motorcycle with his friend Sourav Kumar. Some men in an SUV intercepted them at Salha Chowk power grid and forced Sharan to get into the vehicle. They took him to Judawanpur West and forcibly married him to Kumari.

A team from Jadawanpur police station rescued Sharan from the house of a person named Arvind Rai after acting on a tip-off. When the police team reached Rai’s house they found Sharan sitting with a newlywed woman.

“I have sought the intervention of senior police officials to get justice,” said Sharan.

A report by Bihar police in January said more than 3,400 men were abducted for forced marriage in the state last year. It said about 3,070 men were kidnapped for ‘pakadua vivah’ in the state in 2016, 3,000 in 2015 and 2,526 in 2014.

A 29-year-old junior engineer posted at Bokaro Steel City Plant was similarly forcibly married to a woman at gunpoint in December last year in rural Patna. A video showing the ‘pakadua vivah’ went viral on social media and an FIR was lodged in January 2018.

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