A controversy broke out over alleged "pregnancy tests" as part of eligibility for "Mukhyamantri Kanya Vivah" - a mass marriage scheme where the state government provides Rs 51,000 grant to each bride - in Madhya Pradesh's tribal-dominated Dindori district.
As per reports, the test was conducted before the beneficiaries were to take part in the mass marrige ceremony on the occasion of Akshay Tritiya on Saturday, and four women were removed after their positive pregnancy reports.
Following the development, the opposition Congress sought to know under what guidelines these women were subjected to the tests. Local MLA Markam Singh said that he has learnt that four women were disqualified from the scheme because of their positive reports.
He said that by conducting such tests, the government has not only insulted the poor women, but also have put their life at risk after releasing their reports.
"The state government must clarify what are the guidelines or rules for such pregnancy tests. What will be the future of those women whose test reports were made public," Markam Singh told IANS over phone on Sunday.
According to Dindori district administration, a total of 219 women from Scheduled Tribes (ST), Schedule Castes (SC) and OBC families were brides in the mass marriage ceremony, conducted in the presence of local leaders and officials.
The controversy escalated further after state Congress President Kamal Nath raised questions over the 'pregnancy tests' of women and demanded a high-level inquiry in the matter.
"I want to know from the Chief Minister whether this news is true? If this is true, then on whose orders was such gross insult done to the daughters of Madhya Pradesh? Do the daughters of the poor and tribal communities have no dignity in the eyes of the CM?" he said in a series of tweets.
What is surprising is that officials had different stands while responding to the matter.
District Collector Vikas Mishra told the press that directives were issued during the mass marriage event for detection of sickle cell disease of those taking part. He also said that during the medical examination, some brides had complained of periods issues after which the pregnancy test was conducted.
"There was no directive from the administration to conduct pregnancy tests. The four women who were found to be pregnant were not allowed to take part in the mass marrige ceremony," Mishra added.
However, an another district official, talking to IANS, said as many women have love affairs and these could have resulted in disputes after marrige and it was because of this, that the tests were conducted for making it clear that the couple agreed for marriage mutually.