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Father sues son for low-caste India marriage

Father tells court that son damaged his family's status and social standing by marrying woman of "lower caste".

Last updated: 23 Jan 2014 08:46
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Marrying outside the caste often brings deadly retribution in parts of India [Reuters]

A father in the eastern Indian state of Bihar is suing his only son for defamation after he married a woman from what is still perceived by some as a lower caste, saying he had damaged the family’s reputation and social standing.

A court is scheduled to hear the case soon on the petition filed by Sidhnath Sharma who is seeking damages amounting to Rs 100,000 ($1613) and a ban on his son Sushant Jasu from using the family surname, reports said on Thursday.

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"For ages, it has been an accepted tradition of arranged marriages within your own caste," Sharma, a lawyer from the upper-case Bhumihar group told the AFP news agency from  Danapur town, near the provincial capital Patna.

"But when my only son ended that, it not only stunned me, it also affected my social status," reports quoting Sharma said.

The son, a tax official works in the western state of Gujarat. He married the purportedly lower caste bank officer from Danapur, last November.

Sharma, who filed his case in December 2013, reportedly warned that if his son continued to use the surname, he would ask for Rs. 10,000 ($161) in copyright fees each time he was seen using it.

Mother backs son

Interestingly, the son’s mother supports his marriage.  "If my son is happy with his marriage, I should openly back him. Time has changed now, one should understand it," said reports, quoting her.

India’s caste system has one of its strongest votaries in the eastern state of Bihar, considered one of the poorest in the country.

The centuries-old caste system plays a major role in people’s social relations and can determine marriage, education, employment and land ownership.  Officially, caste discrimination is illegal and violators can be sent to jail.

Several couples have been killed by enraged relatives for defying the caste system and marrying outside their own caste.

The government on the other hand publicly encourages inter-caste marriages and in Bihar state even hands out a bonus to the extent of Rs 50000 ($800) for those marrying across caste barriers.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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