The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Controversy dogs Bharti

Shivpuri (Madhya Pradesh), June 10 (PTI): Uma Bharti today plunged into another row when reports came in that she had appeared as chief guest at a mass wedding where children were allegedly married.

Narendra Birthare, BJP MLA from Phori in Shivpur district, organised the ceremony, where mostly tribals were married off.

Bharti said: “I was not part of any such ceremony nor have I blessed any couple. I was there but… I only addressed a public meeting and ate there. I was not at all part of the ceremony and if the (television) visuals show that, then they have been doctored.”

Bharti said if a child marriage had taken place with so many government officials present, the chief minister, Digvijay Singh, should resign.

A fortnight ago, Birthare had informed the district administration he would be marrying off 97 couples, urging it to verify their ages. But this was reportedly not done.

The administration is investigating if 18 of the 97 couples were minors, district collector V.L. Kanta Rao, said.

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