It may be a cultural shock for many, but more than 3,400 youths were kidnapped for forced marriage, locally known as "Pakadua Vivah" in Bihar last year, official data revealed.
"Pakadua Vivah is rampant in Bihar. About 3,405 youths have been kidnapped for forced marriage in the state. In most of the cases, Pakadua Vivah was solemnised at gun point or threats to their life and their families," a police official said on Sunday.
Last month, the Pakadua Vivah of an engineer in a village in Patna hit the national headlines when he refused to keep his newly wed wife after he was abducted and forced to marry at gun point.
According to the data, about 3,070 youths were kidnapped for Pakadua Vivah in the state in 2016, 3,000 in 2015 and 2,526 in 2014.
"In all such cases, either the youths and their parents have been forced at gun point for Pakadua Vivah," police officials said.
Going by the police records, on an average nine Pakadua Vivah have been taking place daily in the state.
Taking the number of increasing Pakadua Vivah's seriously, the state police has asked all the district Superintendents of Police to be on the alert to check such incidents in the coming marriage season, known as "lagan" beginning this month.
Mahender Yadav, an activist working in flood prone Koshi region in northern Bihar, said kidnapping for Pakadua Vivah is nothing unusual in the state. It has been reported for years. "What is alarming is that its number is increasing".
He told IANS that Pakaduaa Vivah is an old social problem in Bihar due to the demand for dowry.
"Girls families have been kidnapping suitable youths for forcible marriage. Families often use friends and relatives, and sometimes even hire professional criminals, to carry out abductions for marriages".
Even the National Crime Records Bureau Report 2015 - which is the most recent official figure available - confirms that Bihar is at the top in the country when it comes to the abduction of above 18-year-old males.
The number of abducted males in Bihar in the 18 to 30 age-group was 1,096 in 2015. The state alone accounted for nearly 17 per cent of the national figure in the category.