Indian village imposes 'love tax' on inter-caste couple

Indian village imposes 'love tax' on inter-caste couple

A newly-wed couple in Bihar has been asked by villagers to cough up 50,000 rupees (S$1048) as "love tax" or leave the village soon.

The couple belong to different castes and got married defying social custom. They have been warned of dire consequences if they do not pay up.

Villagers say the money collected from the couple will be used to arrange a community feast as is the custom.

Chhotu Yadav, 30, and Soni Devi, 22, who hail from a village in Katihar district of Bihar fell in love and ran away to get married six months ago.

Their problems began when they returned to the village a couple of days back hoping tempers had cooled.

Reports said that soon after the couple returned, they were asked to pay up 50,000 rupees if they wanted to live together.

Being poor, they said they could not pay.

"They (villagers) say they want money since we eloped and got married against their wishes. They are threatening to kill us if we don't pay the money," said Soni Devi.

Chhotu Yadav said: "They have made our lives a veritable hell. I have been assaulted thrice since I returned home. They are asking me to pay the money or leave the village soon."

He alleged the village had also imposed social barriers on the family, not allowing them to talk with other villagers or visit the local market.

"We are investigating the matter. Action will be initiated against the culprits after the probe report comes," Katihar district superintendent of police Kshatraneel Singh said.

Strangely, the state government been encouraging inter-caste marriages with the objective of creating social cohesiveness.

The government even gives incentives to those opting for inter-caste marriages. Last year, the incentive was enhanced from 25,000 rupees to 50,000 rupees.

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