Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar along with ministerial colleagues and others participating in the human chain formed against dowry and child marriages at Gandhi Maidan in Patna. Image Credit: Lata Rani/Gulf News

Patna: Millions of people from all walks of life, age groups and professions joined hands on the streets across Bihar on Sunday to form what officials claimed was the world’s longest human chain against dowry and child marriages — the twin social evils gripping Indian society.

Authorities said more than 40 million people came out on the streets in the bone-chilling cold and stood in queues for about 30 minutes Sunday to demonstrate their resolve against the two social evils. The participants included schoolchildren, college students, teachers, officials, social activists, common men and politicians.

However, two main opposition parties in the state, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, boycotted the initiative, claiming the programme was simply a ploy to help chief minister Nitish Kumar boost his image. They said they could not show solidarity with a man who had brutally “misused the people’s mandate” by going back to partner the BJP and form a new government with its support, while the mandate was given to the erstwhile ruling Grand Alliance comprising the RJD, Congress and the Janata Dal United (JD-U) headed by Nitish Kumar.

Kumar who was the man behind the idea refused to comment on the boycott by the main opposition parties, but said the programme was against social evils in which participation of everyone was solicited. “There are already laws in place yet the twin evils continue and our purpose is to make the people aware about them,” the chief minister told the media on Sunday.

He said initially the evil of dowry was especially limited to well-to-do families, but now it has also taken the common man under its grip. “Our campaign will continue further,” Kumar asserted.

As per an official estimate, Bihar formed a 13,668km-long human chain this time — thus breaking its own record of 12,147km-long human chain against alcoholism last year.

For the last over two months, the state government had been campaigning for a human chain asking the masses to participate in large numbers and make it a success. Reports said more than 46,000 literacy activists, 1,500 cultural artists and thousands of self-help group activists were engaged in the campaign. Apart from this, around 1.6 million slogans were coined and written all over the state.