Sharmili Mallick

Khordha: The alleged child marriage attempt at a temple which was foiled by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and the police on Wednesday took a new turn when both the bride and groom claimed that the girl was more than 18 years-old and they fell in love after meeting over Facebook.

The man--Ramesh Nayak of Khordha district-- claimed he met the girl over Facebook eight months back and they fell in love. The couple said they met each other in person around one and a half months ago and decided to marry.

"We met over Facebook and fell in love. A week ago, when her family members came to know about the relationship, they physically assaulted her and took away her mobile phone. The girl left home on Saturday morning and took a bus to meet me," said Ramesh while claiming that she (bride) was above 18 years of age.

"I then arranged her stay at the residence of one of her friends and informed her family members about her location. After a detailed discussion, her family members agreed for our marriage which was fixed to be performed on Wednesday," added Nayak.

Yesterday, when the marriage was underway at the Lokeshwar Temple in Palla, the CWC and police officials, acting on a tip off, reached the spot and stopped the marriage claiming that the girl was a minor.

However, the bride who hails from Dimiripatna village of Nayagarh district, claimed that she was above 18 years and had appeared for the matriculation examinations in 2017.

"My parents hatched a plan to stop the marriage. When they came to know about my love affair, they took away my mobile phone and even thrashed me which compelled me to leave the house. I am above 18 years old," she asserted.

Meanwhile, her family members claimed that she was only 16 years and three months old.
"My daughter is a minor and I don't want to her to marry that man (Nayak). But, I have nothing to say if she wants to stay with him," said the girl's father.

Meanwhile, the CWC and the police have started a probe to determine the girl's actual age.

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