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Yudhisthir dad gives girl in card game

Malda, Dec. 12: A Malda paddy trader who could not pay Rs 85,000 he lost in a gamble has decided to marry his minor daughter off to the winner, like the Mahabharat dice game when Draupadi was offered to the Kauravas by husband Yudhisthir.

Sabitri Mitra, the state women and child development minister who is from Malda, when told about the incident said this was akin to the father “selling his daughter to write off the debt”, and it “cannot be tolerated”.

A gram panchayat member who attended ashirbad ceremony on both sides said she had told the girl’s family that getting a minor married was against the law, but the family paid no heed. Asked why she did not lodge a police complaint, the panchayat member said she did not want to get involved as both families had agreed to the wedding.

Malda police superintendent Kalyan Mukherjee said though the police had “not received any complaint from anyone yet”, he was making inquiries about the incident.”

“Marrying off a minor is a crime,” he added.

In the Mahabharat, the Pandavas lost a game of dice against Duryodhana and the Kauravas. Yudhisthir, the eldest of the five Pandava brothers, first surrendered his kingdom, then his brothers and then wife Draupadi.

In order to shame the Pandavas, Duryodhana ordered that Draupadi be disrobed in the court of Hastinapur, but Krishna saved Draupadi by magically providing seemingly endless yards of cloth as Draupadi was being disrobed.

In Malda, inquiries by Metro in the girl’s village have revealed that the 30-year-old man, who is supposed to marry the 14-year-old girl, was a trader in paddy, jute and mango.

He had played a card game in November with the girl’s father, a habitual gambler who lost Rs 85,000 but could not pay the winner.

The girl’s mother said the family was in a helpless situation.

“What can we do? My husband ran up a huge debt while gambling with this man. Since then, he had been coming to our home and demanding his money. When we pleaded with him that we were too poor to pay, he said to give our daughter to him. That is when we decided to marry off the older of our two daughters.”

When told that the girl was a minor and it was against the law to get her married off before she turns 18, the mother said: “She is growing up and she is regularly teased on her way to school and back by the young men in the village. We fear that something bad might happen to her. That is why we thought that it is better to get her married off.”

The girl said she didnot want to marry but would not disobey her parents.

“I do not feel like getting married, but I cannot go against the wishes of my parents,” she said.

She has a younger sister and a brother.

The two families have already done an ashirbad (blessing) ceremony for the couple on December 6. The youth’s mother today said she was against the wedding, the date of which is January 20, but it was her son’s wish.

“I have a daughter studying MA and we had plans to get her married first. But my son is stubborn and I had to agree to his wishes,” the prospective groom’s mother said.

The Socialist Party gram panchayat member of the village said she had been invited to the ashirbad along with her husband.

“This is a village matter and that is why I did not say anything. Both families have agreed to the wedding and that is why I went to both the houses for the ashirbad. I had also mentioned to the girl’s parents that their daughter was not yet 18, but they paid no heed to that. I have told our pradhan about the matter,” the lady panchayat member said.

The Congress gram panchayat pradhan said he had heard about the wedding plan. “A father who had lost in a gambling game is giving up his daughter to his gambling opponent. This is a very unfortunate incident. I will talk to both the families and try to convince them that what they are doing is illegal,” he said.