The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Snatch marriage under scanner

Patna, Dec. 16: The nightmares that haunted a 24-year-old mother when she received love notes from a man linked to multiple murders, abductions and dacoities came true on a November evening when Sultan Mian descended on the beauty parlour where Kanchan Mishra worked.

Mian and his men abducted Kanchan from the Fraser Road salon even as many, including her husband, stood hapless witnesses. In a swift operation, the “rising don of Patna” married Kanchan at a mosque in the Mainpura area.

A dazzling reception was hosted days later and among others, ministers from the Rabri Devi government clinked glasses.

A team from the National Commission for Women today came here to investigate the incident that police had initially passed off as a “marriage by consent”. Several accounts of the incident have circulated in the local media.

Purnima Advani, who led the commission team, said: “We have information that the woman was abducted and married forcibly by a notorious gangster at gun-point. The woman is missing since then. No one, however, is ready to speak.”

“The commission will search the victim out and find the truth.”

Senior superintendent of police Sunil Kumar has reopened the files on the alleged abduction. The parents of the woman and her husband have agreed to depose before the commission.

“We are ready to present the facts to the commission. So far, we have learnt this was a marriage by consent. No case has been registered against Sultan,” city superintendent of police O.N. Bhaskar said.

But even a man on the street knows no one here would dare to register a case against Sultan Mian.

Kanchan’s mother, Monorama Devi, shrugged off her fears today and told the commission that a week before her abduction, her daughter had told her that she was being threatened. “If I don’t marry him (Sultan), he will kill me,” Kanchan had said.

The imam of the Mainpura mosque denied there was any marriage there. “I would have known had there been any,” he said.

Kanchan had told a few NGOs about her fears. “The commission has a hard task on hand. It will have to explore the intricate maze of politician-mafia nexus to trace the woman,” said an NGO head.

Married to a Brahmin trader, Kanchan worked hard to supplement her husband’s modest income. Beauty parlours, after all, are a flourishing business here.

Trouble began with one of the usual police swoops on suspected sleaze parlours. She was picked up by the police and “protection” from the local strongman seemed to be the easy way out of the frequent harassments by the police and some of the customers.

Last year, Kanchan’s name was associated with Pappu Pandey, another “don”, said sources.

Eighteen-year-old Sultan holds the reins of the underworld in the better parts of west Patna, an area where the mafia thrives on illegal real estate deals and extortion.

He reportedly enjoys patronage from several members of the Rabri Cabinet. In the past two years, he has allegedly killed 12 people, including two noted industrialists.

A Rashtriya Janata Dal MP allegedly went to him before his sisters’ marriage in the Rajabazar area of the city last summer.

According to police sources, Sultan first met Kanchan at a beauty parlour on Boring Road last year and volunteered to “protect” her. She had thanked him, little knowing that it would mark the beginning of a spell of trauma.

In July, Kanchan allegedly joined the beauty parlour on Fraser Road to avoid Sultan.

Days later, the trader from Anandpuri who owned the shop was gunned down. Kanchan was warned not to work for anyone.

After the incident, Sultan “decided to marry” Kanchan, sources said.

Ever since this incident, the insecurities of Mian probably increased and he decided to “marry” Kanchan. Speculation is rife that she might have been flown abroad.

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