NEW DELHI, May 16 (UPI) -- A young bride has become a national icon in India for packing off her groom to jail for demanding dowry a few hours before her wedding.
Nisha Sharma has now called on other Indian women to resist the demand for dowry, which is banned but widely expected in Indian society.
Sharma, a 21-year-old software engineering student, called police when Munish Dalal and his parents allegedly demanded a car and $25,000 in cash at the time of her wedding.
More than 800 guests were enjoying wedding festivities at Sharma's house when the groom's family made the demand. The bride's father fell at the feet of groom's family, asking them to save his honor by not spoiling the wedding.
But when the adamant groom's family insisted on cash, Sharma dialed the police with her henna-painted hands.
Minutes later, Dalal was bundled into a police lockup and spent what would have been his wedding night in jail.
Dressed in red bridal dress, Sharma told the police: "Before marriage, he (Dalal) had said that I don't want anything, his mother also said we don't want anything. But, at the time (of marriage) he walked out of the marriage function saying he just wanted cash and car."
The marriage was arranged by Sharma's parents through a newspaper advertisement -- a common way in urban India to find marriage partners.
Sharma, who has become a role model for young girls in India, said Friday, "My message to all young girls, is to resist dowry demands. Don't give them (potential in-laws) a penny if they demand."
Since the incident, Sharma's house in Noida on the outskirts of Indian capital had thousands of visitors, calling to congratulate the new heroine of urban India.
Lawmaker and film actor Sunil Dutt visited Sharma's house, saying the woman is "the national icon today."
"I think all girls should follow her footstep," a young girl Aditi, said outside Sharma's house adding that she had traveled 20 miles to have a glimpse of Sharma who defied an age-old tradition where parents give dowry to their daughters at the time of marriage.
"Young girls are inspired by me. Many have told me that they want to be like me," Nisha Sharma said.
Many Indian suitors have expressed willingness to marry "the woman with courage."
Hundreds of women are killed and tortured each year by in-laws families across India for want of dowry, which is widely prevalent in Indian society despite being legally banned under the anti-dowry Act of 1961, which stipulates stringent punishment for demanding dowry.