The thirty three year old Assam MLA,
Rumi Nath, who had left her first husband and her two year-old
daughter and eloped and married her Facebook friend, 28-year-old
Zakir Hussain, hit the headlines because the couple were beaten up
by unruly mob in their hotel room.
This high profile case caught the attention of the people who were
debating on issues like bigamy, inter- religion marriage,
kidnapping, pregnancy, conversion, etcetera.
The above incident is just the tip of the iceberg, if one believes
the data released by the National Crime Records Bureau regarding
kidnapping of women and girls in 2011. At a glance at the
statistics maybe shocking, but digging deep into it tells a
different story that relates to the changing social profile of the
According to National Crime Records Bureau report, UP tops in the
all-India list of kidnappings of women including girls with 7,525
cases, followed by West Bengal 3,711 and Bihar, the kidnap capital
of the country with, 3,050 cases.
In contrast to north Indian states, the southern states have far
less figures relating to kidnappings of women and girls. Tamil
Nadu recorded 1,743 cases, followed by Andhra Pradesh at 1,612,
Karnataka at 1,395 and Kerala with 299 cases.
The highest number of cases in Tamil Nadu was from Villupuram
district (187) followed by Salem (rural) (108) and Cuddalore
(100). Chennai with 41 cases and Coimbatore with 39, fare better
than most other districts of the state.
Numbers, of course, don’t tell the whole story always. The alarm
that could arise out of the dramatic figures calms down when it is
revealed that majority of the cases is about elopements and not
really of kidnapping as registered in the police records.
This phenomenon is growing at its own pace and needs to be
analyzed in order to construct a different picture of India that
is slowly negotiating with modern life style in this globalize
A deep look at such cases concludes that such incidents should not
be merely treated as regular crime cases of abduction but these in
fact reflect the changing social mores in the country.
In the modern environment, there are far more opportunities of
social interaction that one may have thought out some two decades
ago. The internet, mobile phone, social networking sites, various
other forums, gives opportunity for far greater social discourse.
These days’ young women are becoming financially independent and
socially secure. Many prefer to make their own decisions and they
often decide to select life partners by themselves.
The other social dimension is the bane of dowry system. Young
girls foresee that their parents may not able to pay huge sum
required for a decent arranged marriage and they may remain
unmarried for want of it. This forces some of them to choose their
own partner and a few tread the path of elopement.
This often leads to stiff resistance from the elders. The first
response from the agitated parents is to accuse the other party of
kidnapping. They immediately approach the police and record the
incident as a case of abduction. It is only after the couple are
traced and a cross checking is done with them that the real truth
comes out from them.
In this statistics there is also an alarming trend where young
girls below the age of 18 are lured into relationships during
their school days and such cases are treated differently.
In cases involving minors who eloped with older man, a kidnapping
case is registered and the person is arrested. The girl is brought
back and reunited with her parents and counseling is given to
There are also cases of kidnapping for ransom in the figures
mentioned above. Recently, a five-member gang was arrested in
Coimbatore who kidnapped a 25-year-old woman and demanded a ransom
of 1 crore from her father, a textile merchant.
However, such cases are miniscule when compared to the elopement
cases that are reported as kidnapping. Most of the cases are
usually settled amicably between the parents and the other parties
involved, with police acting as a mediator.
Some have the ugly side of the story as well. Rizwan ur
Rehman case, Bibi Jagir Kaur case are some ugly truth that
searches an answer to this phenomena.
Violent reactions, leads to crimes like honor killing and becomes
more of a problem then solution. A sound parenting and interactive
guardianship of the children could be the best possible remedy for
such issues. However, a change in outlook of the elder generation
is needed to handle such issues. They have to accept the reality
that the happiness of the couples is the only way forward in such
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org