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Cupid before caste for civil services couple

Patna, April 10: This marriage wasn’t made in heaven, but that didn’t make it any less special. Not when it set an example of courage and a silent resolve to defy caste prejudices.

Renulata, 26, a 2005 batch Indian Economic Service officer, swapped wedding vows with Kuldeep Narayan, 29, an IAS officer of the same batch now posted near Muzaffarpur.

Both are from Lucknow, but Renulata is an OBC while Kuldeep is a brahmin. They had fallen in love four years ago while preparing for their civil services examination.

On April 2, they trooped into assistant registrar S. Kanaujia’s office to register their marriage. The same evening, the couple went through a traditional ceremony organised by the Muzaffarpur district magistrate. The assistant registrar performed the kanyadan.

Bihar, where caste determines alliances and decides the fate of governments, isn’t an easy place to pick for such a marriage.

But when Renulata, dressed in a sky-blue sari, and Kuldeep, sporting black trousers and an indigo shirt, went to put the marriage signatures, their steps weren’t shaky.

“My duty was over once the marriage was solemnised,” said district magistrate Vinay Kumar. Guests included the sub-divisional magistrate, circle officers, block development officers, police officers and some lawyers. Kumar, by virtue of being a district magistrate, is also a marriage registrar. That gave the wedding an “official” ring.

For Renulata, getting to her big moment wasn’t easy: she had left behind her family, but not her reason and conviction. Her parents rejected her relationship with Kuldeep, fearing a backlash from the members of their caste.

An official said Kuldeep had chosen Bihar mainly because he was posted here and could count on the support of colleagues. But there might have been another and, perhaps, a bigger reason.

“The deep-rooted caste system in Bihar would have motivated him to set a silent example right from his workplace,” the official said.

Kuldeep, now out of Muzaffarpur with Renulata, played down the event.

“Probably, the media is reading too much into this marriage. The court marriage became necessary since our parents didn’t agree to an arranged one. But Renu and I were committed to each other,” he said.

He wondered how the court marriage, a “private matter” for the couple, generated so much interest in caste-ridden Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Renulata, too, was surprised by the curiosity. She had left Delhi quietly for the wedding.

But an official at the district magistrate’s office offered an explanation. “People generally associate the marriage of an IAS officer with a show of pomp and power. A simple wedding and an official reception are unheard of.”

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