The dramatic ten-day demonstration by a young woman outside the home of the man she accused of not accepting her as a married woman shows signs that judicial intervention is bearing fruit. As a local court in Berhampur, Ganjam district of Odisha, orders her and the man to spend another week together trying to reconcile, her lawyers and social activists who support her demand hope the marriage will work.
The public saga of Tapaswini Dash seeking to restore her marriage to Dr. Saving Sumit Kumar Sahu has drawn attention in Odisha for over a fortnight. On November 22nd, Dash, 26, came dressed as a bride and sat right in front of Dr. Sahu in Brahmanagar, Berhampur’s village, and asked to be allowed to live with him in the house. Since the family of Dr. Sahu refused, she sat there for the next ten days, holding photos that she showed with him. She also slept out there at night, with makeshift arrangements for a mosquito net made by some of the social activists who accompanied her.
Tapaswini Dash and Dr. Sumit Kumar Sahu
The 26-year-old woman said she and Dr. Sumit Kumar Sahu, a doctor at the age of 30, was in love and married in court on September 7, 2020 for the next seven months. Then he said his father had good connections and threatened him with murder. So he returned home and promised to take me home after a social wedding with Hindu rituals. But since then, both he and his family have refused to recognize me, ”Dash, the daughter of a retired police officer in nearby Chhatrapur, told reporters during her protest.
“What do you (Dr. Sahu’s family) want? You killed my child. They stopped my education and ruined my reputation. I would like to be able to live with my husband in his house. I’ll sit here until the day happens, ”she said. She did not move outside the three-story house, although Dr. Sahu ignored their presence and the local police tried to convince them to leave.
Both Dash and Dr. Sahu belong to the Brahmin caste. Dr. Sahu, son of a wealthy businessman, received his MBBS degree from MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur. Dash, a science graduate, dropped out of homeopathy studies after her father’s accident and voluntarily retired, said her attorney Pradeep Kumar Behera.
Although Dr. Sahu and his family failed to speak to the media, said Dash’s lawyers, Dr. Sahu filed a petition for divorce some time ago, which is pending in the Berhampur Family Court. In the petition, Dr. Sahu reportedly accused Dash of ill-treating her in-laws while staying at her family home for two months.
With Dash’s dramatic protest in bridal gowns making daily news on television, a local court accepted a hearing on a domestic violence case brought against Dr. Sahu and his family had submitted. On December 2, the Subordinate Justice Magistrate (SDJM) of Berhampur ordered the warring couple to live together for a week in the guest house of a sugar factory in Aska, Ganjam District, near the place where Dr. Sahu is stationed as a doctor at a government’s primary health center (PHC). The court asked the local police to allow her to stay there safely and forbade third parties from contacting her.
The court also asked a police officer to submit a report on the couple’s togetherness at the end of the week. The court move was recognized by social activists across Odisha as a thoughtful and correct step in the reconciliation between Dash and Dr. Celebrated Sahu.
On December 9, the report was presented in a sealed envelope to Judge Jitendiya Panigrahi. This time the judge asked the couple to live together for another week and to give him a report at the end of the week.
“The SDJM ordered that they would live together in a rented house and that the husband would pay for it and other requirements during the time. The court has now lifted the restriction for other people to meet the couple. We feel that the relationship between the couple is developing positively, which has led to the instructions of the court, ”said Dash’s lawyer Pradeep Kumar Behera.
Pramila Tripathi, a social worker who accompanied Dash during her ten day picket, said, “It is her (Tapaswini Dash) determination to save her marriage that is bearing fruit. I thank the court for ordering them to stay together for another week. That will help them iron out the bitterness between them. “
As Tapswini Dash and Dr. Sumit Kumar Sahu and her family members were present in court on December 2, Judge Jitendiya Panigrahi advised the couple for over two hours, a lawyer said. “The SDJM had explained to them the value of marital happiness in human life by quoting examples from his own six-year marriage as well as quotations from the Bhagavat Gita. The judge is working just as hard to keep this marriage from falling apart, ”said the lawyer.
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