The foot-long paddles gifted by Gopal Bhargava had 'For beating drunkards' and 'Police won't intervene' emblazoned on them. Photograph: (Facebook)
Gopal Bhargava, a minister in a central India state, gave paddles to about 700 women at a mass wedding to remove the scourge of domestic violence
A minister in central India gave an unusual wedding gift to nearly 700 newly-wed brides -- a wooden bat.
Gopal Bhargava, the state minister of rural development of Madhya Pradesh state, gifted 'mogris' (wooden bats used to wash clothes) to the brides to use it as a weapon if their husbands turn alcoholic or abusive or refuse to mend their ways.
Bhargava gave the paddles to the brides during a government-sponsored mass wedding event in Garhakota village, located almost 1,000 kilometres from Mumbai.
The nearly foot-long paddles are emblazoned with messages that read: "For beating drunkards" and "Police won't intervene".
Bhargava told the brides to reason with their husbands first, adding that they should "let the wooden paddles do the talking" if their spouses refuse to listen.
Bhargava told AFP he wanted to draw attention to the plight of rural women who face domestic abuse from their alcoholic husbands.
"Women say whenever their husbands get drunk they become violent. Their savings are taken away and splurged on liquor," he said.
"There is no intent to provoke women or instigate them to violence but the bat is to prevent violence."
Bhargava said he got the idea when a woman asked him if she could beat his alcoholic husband with a 'mogri'.
Several states in India have taken the issue of alcohol consumption head on in recent months.
While Gujarat has practiced prohibition for several years, eastern Bihar state launched a crackdown on sale and intake of liquor last year.
The southern state of Kerala also banned the sale of alcohol in hotels in 2014.
Last year, the government of Tamil Nadu state vowed to introduce prohibition as part of its campaign to win re-election.
The pledge was popular with women voters, who blame alcohol for much of the state's domestic and sexual violence, and for depleting the income of poor families.
Experts have expressed caution, pointing to a possible rise in the production of illegal and often deadly moonshine.
(WION with inputs from AFP)