Police in West Bengal mostly have the job of hunting down Maoists but on Wednesday officials from West Midnapore hosted the wedding of two former rebels.
The department’s officials held a reception ceremony for 28-year-old Sulekha Mahato and Dilip Mahato, 31, and even organised a wedding feast in a lodge in Midnapore town about 150km from the state capital of Kolkata.
More than 350 Maoists have surrendered in West Bengal over the past eight years but this is the first instance where the police have helped a rehabilitated couple marry.
The Mahatos surrendered in 2016 and met in 2017 while undergoing a training for 42 days as home guards in the Midnapore Police lines as part of their rehabilitation. After the training, Sulekha was sent to Jhargram in March and Dilip was posted in Midnapore.
They cannot move freely outside the police lines so officials, who normally do not have any role if two of their employees want to tie the knot, helped them get married.
“She appealed to us several times that she wants to return to Midnapore. We initially did not understand the reason for her urgency. Later when we came to know about their affair, we talked to their family and arranged their marriage,” West Midnapore superintendent of police Alok Rajoria said.
“When both the families agreed to the marriage, we felt it was our social responsibility to facilitate their tying the knot,” said Rajoria.
The wedding rituals were conducted under tight security in a temple at Karnagarh, about 10km from Midnapore town. Sulekha, who wore a red Benarasi sari, and dhoti-kurta clad Dilip were taken in a police van to the temple, where the senior police officers were present.
Sulekha was a member of the action squad of Madan Mahato in Belpahari area, now in Jhargram district bordering Jharkhand. Dilip hails from Birbhanpur under Salboni of West Midnapore, another former Maoist belt.
There was one small inconvenience for the couple. They cannot move out for honeymoon and will have to stay in the Midnapore police lines.