A young couple have been allegedly ordered by a panchayat in Bihar's Katihar district to pay Rs 50,000 as 'tax' for their inter-caste marriage and even been threatened if they failed to do so.
Chhotu Yadav of Gogra village under Azamnagar police station, around 275 km from Patna, had fallen in love with Soni Kumai of neighbouring Rohia village and belonging to another caste. In November last year, they got married at a local court in Katihar, where Yadav worked in a hotel.
Both the families had accepted the marriage but trouble began when the couple returned to Gogra recently.
Yadav today said a panchayat meeting was held a month ago allegedly on the orders of three musclemen in the village and a diktat was issued that the couple pay Rs 50,000 fine as the marriage was an inter-caste one.
"They (the panchayat) said this will ensure that no action is taken against us ... The panchayat said the money was a sort of marriage tax and would be spent on a feast and for constructing a temple. Since the meeting, the demand was being consistently made amd we were also beaten up a few times since then," Yadav said.
The couple have also been threatened with dire consequences if they did not pay up and are living in fear, claimed his father Puran Yadav. "We are poor people. We have no money. How can we pay? Moreover, when we have accepted the marriage why are others getting involved in it?" he asked.
The family approached the Katihar superintendent of police Kshatraneel Singh through Mahendra Narayan Yadav, a former MLA of the area.
When contacted, Singh told PTI "We are investigating the matter. The couple and their family members will be given protection. We are waiting for the probe report and will take action against the culprits."
Though no FIR has yet been lodged, two of the three musclemen have fled the village fearing police action. The third named Dinesh Yadav when asked said the money was sought merely for a feast.