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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 May, 2003, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Dowry demand lands groom in jail

By Rajyasri Rao
BBC correspondent in Delhi

A bride who got the police to arrest her bridegroom has become something of a celebrity in India.

Nisha Sharma
Nisha Sharma: "I'm proud of what I've done"

Nisha Sharma, 21, called the police after her father was asked for more dowry money just minutes before her wedding ceremony.

The custom of dowry is outlawed in India although it is still widely practised.

Her plucky decision has won widespread media coverage and she says she has received offers of marriage from men who support her courage.

Ms Sharma's call to the police took place after her brother warned her that a scuffle had broken out between the two families.

It takes a lot of courage to do something like that - tell Nisha from me that I love her and I want to marry her
Fawad Zaki, 23, Kabul

He told her that the groom had assaulted her father and asked for some $25,000 in cash as dowry.

The groom has since been arrested and the police are looking for other members of the family who are missing.

The giving and accepting of dowry is a punishable offence in India and can lead to imprisonment.

Media star

Nisha Sharma's action has got her widespread media attention, with the front-pages of most national dailies featuring her story.

I am loving every second of it because I do believe it is something young girls and women in general need to know about
Nisha Sharma

A radio show in Delhi, carrying a long interview with her, has presented her as a role model for other young women in distress.

Her house in a sprawling Delhi suburb is buzzing with visitors - a great many from the media but also women activists, neighbours and other well wishers who want to congratulate her.

Inside her house, she sits on the floor surrounded by people patiently queuing up to speak to her in person.

Despite the attention, she says she is proud of what she has done.

"It has robbed me of my voice - all this constant re-telling of my story - but I am loving every second of it because I do believe it is something young girls and women in general need to know about," she tells the BBC.

Her mother and aunt who sit close by protectively nod in agreement.

Nisha's wedding sari and invite
Nisha's wedding sari and invite

Nisha says she has received several letters from prospective suitors who say they would be honoured to marry her because she has been so brave.

She is also reported to have been approached by one political party which wants her to stand as its representative in state elections.

But she brushes off both offers lightly.

She says she is happy to have got out of an ugly situation and that all she can think of at the moment is completing her graduation.

The BBC's Sanjeev Srivastava
"Nisha Sharma is the new icon for young Indians

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23 Sep 02  |  South Asia
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