Man hanging
Child marriages are thought to be rampant in Indian states like Bihar, especially in rural parts - Representative image Reuters

A 15-year-old boy in the Indian state of Bihar took his own life after he was forced to marry his widowed sister-in-law, who he considered to be a "mother-like" figure. The teenager committed suicide by hanging himself just two hours after was married to the mother-of-two, who is 10 years older to him.

Police have arrested two people, including the teenager's father, in relation to the death. The father is suspected to have pressurised Mahadev Das into marry Ruby Devi after Mahadev's elder brother was killed in an accident.

Authorities said the wedding was solemnised on Monday, 11 December, in the village of Vinoba Nagar, which is located close to Gaya – a pilgrimage city in Bihar. Scores of villagers and family members were present at the wedding ceremony.

"Although no suicide note was found, the boy's neighbours said he had resisted his family members but was forced to marry his sister-in-law. It is a case of child marriage and abetment to suicide," said Manish Kumar, a senior police officer.

"Mahadev always treated his sister-in-law like his mother. It was the Rs 80,000 (£925) compensation money that became the bone of contention between Ruby's parents and her in-laws," added the officer.

When Mahadev's brother was killed in an accident at his workplace, his family was paid a compensation of Rs 80,000. But Devi's parents demanded that the money be transferred to her, which Mahadev's father was reluctant to do.

"My daughter-in-law and her parents were mounting pressure on me to transfer the amount to the account of Ruby. I had already deposited Rs 27,000 in her account and assured her parents to transfer the remaining amount later. But they kept on exerting pressure on me to either give the money or marry my [younger] son to Ruby," Mahadev's father was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times before he was taken into custody by police.

Charges have been registered against Mahadev's father and other family members.

Bihar's Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been campaigning against child marriages in the state and has called for an end to the practice. Bihar is one of the states where child marriages are rampant, with girls as young as 12 or 13 getting married off by their parents in most rural parts.