Groom Kidnapped and Ordered at Gunpoint to Call Wedding Off

Jugal Kushwaha, a resident of the town of Shahpur in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, was due to be married to a woman from a neighboring village on May 29. But he might have developed cold feet after the engagement nearly cost him his life.

On the night of May 22, Kushwaha was kidnapped from his wedding venue by three men and taken by motorcycle to an orchard. In the orchard, the men threatened to shoot him at the mandap—a structure akin to an altar, according to—if he did not call off the engagement and abandon his fiancé. They even made him call up his future in-laws and tell them he had lost all interest in marrying their daughter, a spokesperson for the police department told The Times of India.

Fortunately, the men apparently did not have the stomach to terrorize Kushwaha any further. They subsequently released him "in a desolate place" and fled the scene, the spokesperson said. Once freed, Kushwaha immediately informed his family members of his harrowing ordeal. The family then contacted the police to report the abduction and death threat, according to India Today. Taking no chances, they also requested a police presence at the May 29 wedding.

Inspector Kotwali Ashutosh Kumar Singh, the investigating officer in the case, told the Times the department had agreed to their request.

"Police would be deployed at the shaadi mandap on May 29, the day the man's marriage is to be solemnized," Singh said.

The police plan to charge the perpetrators with several crimes under the Indian Penal Code. While the suspects, evidently aware the net was closing around them, had fled their homes as of May 22, the police are searching for them, according to the Times. Their specific motives were not made clear in the article.

The kidnapping took place in the Fatehpur district of Uttar Pradesh. Predominantly rural in settlement composition, Uttar Pradesh was home to roughly 200 million people in 2011. Most residents identify as Hindu and speak Hindi, but a sizeable minority are Muslim and speak Urdu, according to Britannica.

In 2017, engineer Vinod Kumar, 29, faced the reverse of Kushwaha's situation when he was kidnapped at a friend's wedding and forced to marry a female guest at gunpoint. While officially illegal, according to another India Today article, the practice is widespread in poorer regions of India such as western Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh. In a nearly six-minute video clip shared by the YouTube channel Republic Hindi, Kumar can be seen weeping as he is forced to participate in marriage rituals.

An Indian groom rides a horse.
An Indian groom wearing traditional dress rides a horse as he participates in his wedding procession. Last month, another Indian groom was kidnapped and ordered at gunpoint to call off his wedding. HIMANSHU SHARMA/Getty Images