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Arunima Maharshi

IWB Blogger

In The Real Life Thriller, Dr. Kriti Bharti Spies On The Family Of A 12 Y.O. Groom

  • IWB Post
  •  July 9, 2019

When I answered the phone, from the other end came a shaky and scared voice, I knew something was wrong.

Caught up with the many legal files from hours, his voice took over my attention in a second. I tried to calm him down, but it seemed as though he was in a hurry and was hiding to make that call.

“I am 12 years old, and my family is forcefully getting me married.” Words that weren’t alien for me, but have sent down a chill down my spine, every single time. Half-crying he spoke, “I want to study, but my parents are not listening. And if they find out about my calling you, they will kill me. Please come for my help, didi!” I had tears in my eyes but was boiling with anger inside. Disconnecting the phone, I plonked down, and couldn’t think of anything but his situation and my action plan.

It so happened that the village he was from was very small and with only one narrow opening into the town. And if I had gone alone, the villagers wouldn’t have ever let me out. But the little boy’s words were constantly ringing in my head, “If you don’t come to my rescue, I will take poison and end my life.” I wouldn’t have left him even otherwise, but given the situation, I had to seek police help, and soon. I still remember walking out of the office of the concerned judiciary officer with the words, “If I don’t go for that boy’s help, I will be responsible for his death, and if you don’t support me, you will be responsible for my death!”

Fortunately, they sensed the graveness of the situation, and left with no other option, sent me help. But the real drama took place later.

Taking help from an auto-rickshaw driver, we reached his village, but news travels much faster in small communities. And so when we entered the house, we were welcomed with marriage processions, but instead of a 12-year-old boy, sat a young man at the place of the groom. I was shocked! The family was so daring, and quick, that upon getting the information they hid the boy and greeted us with innocent questioning looks! It took me time, and a lot of patience, one wrong step and unaware I could have destroyed the little boy’s life. But with God’s blessings and my presence of mind, we finally managed to find the boy and get the false marriage on hold. At 2 am in the night, I finally wrapped him in the sheath of safety!

“Spying is an essential part of the long and rather intense child-marriage-annulment process. And when you are unequipped with regard to the knowledge of family background, and your own safety, you can’t just turn up! I can’t ignore my own safety, for if I’ll not be there, who will take care of my girls and the many children whom I still have to get relieved! So I try my best to research beforehand and take careful steps.”

This was Dr. Kriti Bharti, a Social Activist and Rehabilitation Psychologist, on a case of child-annulment that turned to become a heroic spying incidence. An instance that she shared with us a few days ago, when we called to congratulate on her nomination for the prestigious award of Youth Activist by CIVICUS (A World Alliance for Citizen Participation). In her words, “It was no less than a Hindi action-drama film scene.”

Kriti Bharti

Born Kriti Chopra, she changed her surname to Bharti (“Daughter of India”) in 1999 and brought the country honor by making it to the Limca Book of Records for annulling the first child marriage in India. She then founded The Saarthi Trust in 2011, which works to help child brides in getting their marriage annulled. So far, Kriti has annulled 33 marriages and stopped more than 1000.

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