The semi-feudal practice of celebratory firings during weddings have killed at least a dozen people in different parts of Bihar in the last one week. The month-long marriage season comes to a halt on Monday. Most of the victims of the celebratory firings are either members of the dance-orchestra parties or members of the ‘baarat’ (marriage processions).
Two such incidents took place at Ara, 60 km from capital Panta, late last night at two different marriage celebrations.
At Chanda village, 19-year-old Munna Ram, the son of Sanjivan Ram, was killed when he was attending the “welcome ceremony”. When the groom was garlanding the bride during the Jaimala programme, a stray bullet fired by a member of the groom's party, as part of the celebrations, hit the villager, who died on the spot.
In a separate incident at the Padariya village under the Charpokhari police station in Bihar’s Bhojpur district, Nikesh Kumar Singh (25) was killed on-the-spot when members of the baarat, who had come from Bhabhua, fired celebratory bullets. The bride's father, Hargovind Singh, had objected to the celebratory firings, but his "sermons" were rejected by the baarat party members, most of who were drunk, even in the prohibition-bound Bihar.
In another marriage procession of the daughter of a Patna-based premier college’s principal, members of the baarat party fired in the air till the event tent ended up being torn into pieces. However, none was hurt.
Ashok Kumar Ajad, the Deputy SP of Piro, said that the police have arrested three people, including the father, Vishwanath Singh, and the brother of the groom.
The rifle used in the firing has been seized. Police have also registered FIRs against 40 members of the baarat.
Last week, a 12-year-old child was also killed in celebratory firing at Ara, the headquarters of the Bhojpur district,
Last night, one person was killed in celebratory firing at Bhagalpur. The father of the bride had requested the groom's relatives not to resort to firings, but his advice was customarily ignored.
At the Begusarai town in northern Bihar, 150 km from Patna, a 14-year-old child, who was witnessing the arrival of the marriage procession, was killed when members of the baarat party started the firings.
At Bagaha in West Champaran, a young member of the dance party from Siliguri in West Bengal was killed when she was fired upon by the members of the baarat party. At Bhabhua too, members of the orchestra and rural dance party faced the wrath of the baarat as they had resisted their bid to force them to dance to their tunes. In the firing, one of the dancers was killed.
At Vigrahpur under the Sonbarsha police station of the Saharasa district, a woman dancer, Madhu, was killed when she too became a victim of the scourge of celebratory firing.
Within minutes of exchanging the garlands with the bride, the groom Satyendra Kumar himself fell victim to celebratory firing at Shahpur as someone from the baarat fired to celebrate the marriage.
On Saturday, a lawyer, Mehar Anwar, was killed when he objected to the teasing of women dancers during the marriage celebrations at Daniwayan, 30 km from Patna. He was a lawyer at the Masaurhi civil Court. The marriage party of his son had gone to Ekangarsarai in the adjoining Nalanda district. During the night, a dance programme was organised. A group of local youths started teasing the women dancers, which was resisted by the lawyer and father of the groom.
The inebriated youth followed the members of the baarat party while they were returning and attacked the groom's father at Daiyawan, killing him on the spot. Five other members of the baarat party were also assaulted upon.
Similar incidents of deaths due to celebratory firings have been reported from Samastipur, Nalanda, Fatuah, Chapra, and Saharsa as well.
Through an amendment in the Arms Act on December 9, 2019, celebratory firings at any social or public function have been banned. It has been made a punishable offence, inviting two years jail and Rs 1 lakh as fine or both. The state government, too, had issued notifications prohibiting celebratory firings.
In the rural pockets of Bihar, it is a tradition to hire dancers, mostly women, during the marriage parties and they continue to face the wrath of the illegal celebratory firings.