15 people, including two government officials, have been arrested in Uttar Pradesh for their alleged involvement in a massive wedding fraud.
The scam was unearthed after a video showing brides at the event garlanding themselves went viral on social media. Visuals also show some men dressed as grooms hiding their faces.
The community wedding was held on January 25 in the Balia district of Uttar Pradesh.
Officials say about 568 couples got married at the event, however, later it was found that several were paid to pose as brides and grooms.
A local alleged that both men and women were paid between Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 for posing as brides and grooms. “Some Women had no one. They were wearing the varmala (garland) themselves. We came to know that people are being paid between Rs 500 to Rs 2,000,” Vimal Kumar Pathak said.
A 19-year-old man told NDTV that he was offered money to pose as a groom. “I went there to see the wedding. They made me sit there. They said that they will give me money. Many were being made to sit,” said Vimal Kumar Pathak.
BJP MLA Ketki Singh was the Chief Guest at the community wedding.
On being asked about the involvement of the government officials in the alleged fraud, MS Singh said, “They informed me just two days before the event. I had suspected there was something fishy. But now a complete investigation is being done” she said.
According to the government website, the government provides Rs 51,000 under this scheme, of which Rs 35,000 goes to the girl, Rs 10,000 for purchasing matrimonial materials and Rs 6,000 for the event.
Officials said this scam was unearthed before any money could be transferred to the accused. “We immediately formed a three-member committee to investigate the matter and verify all the beneficiaries. Till the time the complete investigation is not done, no benefits will be transferred to beneficiaries,” they said.