As many as 15 people, including two government officials, have been arrested for their involvement in a massive wedding scam in Uttar Pradesh, aimed at exploiting the Chief Minister’s group marriage scheme. The scam, first reported Wednesday, emerged when a video showing brides getting dolled up at a mass wedding went viral on social media.
The community wedding, held on January 25 in the Balia district, initially saw the union of some 568 couples. However, further investigation revealed that several participants were paid to pose as brides and grooms. Residents revealed that both men and women were offered sums ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 to act as a couple.
An FIR has been registered against the development assistant of the Social Welfare department and eight beneficiaries on charges of fraud in the Chief Minister’s Mass Marriage Scheme. It is alleged that many people, who were already married, got remarried in the mass marriage program held at Maniyar Inter College on January 25.
“Some women had no one. They themselves wore the varmala (garland). We found out that people are paid between Rs 500 and Rs 2,000,” Vimal Kumar Pathak, a local, was quoted as saying. NDTV. A 19-year-old man who went to see the wedding was offered money and forced to sit next to other brides and grooms.
The community wedding featured BJP MLA Ketki Singh as the chief guest. Responding to questions about the involvement of government officials in the alleged fraud, Singh said: “I was informed just two days before the event. I had suspected there was something fishy. But now a full investigation is underway.”
The UP government’s scheme, which was exploited in the scam, offers Rs 51,000, of which Rs 35,000 is allocated to the girl, Rs 10,000 for the wedding material and Rs 6,000 for the event. Earlier, district magistrate Ravindra Kumar said the funds are yet to be distributed to the beneficiaries of the mass marriage program carried out in Maniyar development block.
“A case has been registered against the development assistant and eight beneficiaries were found guilty in the investigation,” Kumar said. Action will be taken against anyone else found guilty, she added. A three-member committee has been formed to investigate the beneficiaries. ensure that no benefits are transferred until a thorough investigation is concluded.