Girl couple set free

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By GAJINDER SINGH in Chandigarh
  • Published 10.12.04

Chandigarh, Dec. 10: Raju and Mala have been declared by the court to be adults free to decide their future, one which a state with a skewed male-female sex ratio may well dread.

?We are already reeling under a shortage of girls and if girls start marrying girls, then we are headed for some stormy days ahead in the state,? a senior Punjab government officer said. Punjab has 786 girls to 1,000 boys.

The two girls had eloped recently and tied the knot ?in front of the holy fire? and demanded of their parents that they be allowed to live as husband and wife. Their parents had lodged a missing persons complaint with the police.

Late last night, Amritsar duty magistrate Sanjiv Joshi freed Raju, 25, and Mala, 22, from legal wrangles, stating they were adults and no case could be registered against them.

The girls reached Amritsar yesterday from Delhi and were produced by police before Joshi for ?directions? to proceed against them.

The police had earlier expressed their inability to take action against the two, stating that a missing persons complaint could be registered but no law could be invoked to arrest them.

The girls had shocked their parents earlier this week by demanding sworn affidavits that they would not be harassed, as a condition for their return. Their elopement and reported marriage had sent shockwaves across the state.

Mala, the ?wife?, said no force in the world could separate them. ?Raju hi meri daulat hai, Raju hi mera jeevan hai (Raju is my life).?

Mala, who sports sindoor, said they would have accepted any sentence the court would have pronounced. ?We would have only requested the court to keep us in the same cell.?

Mala?s parents are Dalits and Raju, the ?husband?, is from a Jat-Sikh family.

Mala?s father Raj Kumar said: ?This is something we never dreamt of. We only hope Mala realises what she has done and marries the person she has been engaged to.?

Raju?s mother Ranjit Kaur said her daughter?s decision had caused consternation in the family. ?I dread what will happen next but hope sense will prevail on both.?