5 Feb 2024
Over 200 couples allegedly participated in fake marriage ceremonies at a mass wedding event in Uttar Pradesh's Ballia on January 25.
Law enforcement has apprehended 15 individuals, including officials from the Social Welfare department, in connection with the purported scam.
A video documenting the event, conducted under the state's Mass Marriage Scheme, depicts brides exchanging garlands with themselves, revealing the fraudulent nature of the marriages.
Initially believed to have united 568 couples, investigations later revealed that over 200 couples were paid to feign being brides and grooms.
A 19-year-old participant claimed he was promised Rs 2,000 to attend the mass wedding but was not compensated for his presence.
On January 29, a committee headed by the chief development officer was formed to probe the matter.
The investigation uncovered that some beneficiaries were already married in 2023, including Archana, Ranjana Yadav, Suman Chauhan, Priyanka, Pooja, Sanju, and Ramita. The committee's report stated that all of them were ineligible under the Chief Minister's Mass Marriage Scheme, as they had applied fraudulently, concealing their actual marital status.
The report further blamed the negligence of the Social Welfare department's assistant development officer for failing to scrutinize applications, allowing this deception to occur.
District Magistrate Ravindra Kumar revealed that the funds from the mass marriage program in the Maniyar development block had not yet been distributed to the beneficiaries.
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