Balak Ram of Biharipur village, Uttar Pradesh, was a bachelor aged 37 and frequently taunted for it. His family had long been hunting for a bride for him. He was renowned for being a little 'off his rocker' and no woman agreed to marry him. In their search for a bride, his family sought the help of a man who led a 'natak mandali' (dance troupe), Hukkam Singh. Singh agreed to get Balak Ram a bride, at a fee of Rs 50,000 (£520, $810). He said he had found a "beautiful and homely young girl," in Mathura. Balak Ram's family travelled 160 km from Badaun to Mathura on November 2, and were pleased to be introduced to 29-year-old Raj Kumari, their daughter-in-law to be. Raj Kumari hailed from Japarpur village in Mathura.
The wedding was solemnized 48 hours after Ram's family first met Raj Kumari. Money was paid to
Hukkam Singh, as promised.
A number of Balak Ram's relatives attending the ceremony. The woman's parents and Hukkam Singh represented the bride's side of the marriage party. The bride cried as she left her parents' home to go with her groom.
A whole week after the wedding, Balak Ram did not have a notion what his bride looked like. She would never lift her veil. He did not even know the sound of her voice - she never spoke. She indicated that it was all part of some vow she had taken for her marriage, and Balak Ram's family thought it would all settle in time.
Last Saturday night, though, a few village women saw, through a window in Balak Ram's house, a young boy donning a saree. They realised that the new bride was not a woman. He was, in reality, 15-year-old Rajkumar.
Investigations showed that Hukkam Singh had duped Balak Ram's family. Rajkumar was a member of Hukkam Singh's dance troupe, and had agreed to don the role of bride for a payment of Rs10,000 (£105, $160).
Policemen are unsure how to proceed in the case - there is now no trace of Hukkam Singh; and they do not quite know what to do with the minor.
Rajkumar said Hukkam Singh had asked him to play the role of bride, and offered him Rs 10,000 for it. Hukkam Singh had advised him to run away from the village the first chance he got, Rajkumar said.
"The boy has not yet received his due, and will not leave the house till he gets Rs 10,000. He is a minor. We are not in a state to "rescue" him. Balak Ram's family has not lodged a First Information Report in the matter, and is waiting for Hukkam Singh to return the Rs 50,000. I don't know what to do," Vipin Maurya, from Hazratpur police station, said.
Balak Ram and Rajkumar are now settling into being the butt of the villagers' jokes. Rajkumar no longer dresses the role of the bride, and is back to his shirt and pants, but does not mind occasionally wearing the saree. Balak Ram too is delighted to pose with his new bride, so what if she turned out the wrong gender.
Assistant Superintendent of Police Maan Singh Chauhan of Badaun said, "We have not received an FIR. I have instructed the station officer of Hazratpur police station to take appropriate action. We have called the other party and will try to solve the matter amicably."