A supposedly mass wedding ceremony held in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh, was embroiled in a controversy after several brides garlanded themselves with no grooms present. The event, organised under a government scheme where participants get money, was found to have been rigged after villagers alleged that several fake couples took part only to embezzle funds.

According to reports, 568 couples participated in the ceremony hosted by the state social welfare department at Maniyar Inter College on January 25. However, questions were raised after the unusual footage (video above) surfaced online. The Chief Development Officer Ojasvi Raj ordered an investigation into the matter after the video caused a stir.

After an investigation was conducted in several villages of the block, an FIR was filed at Maniyar Police station against eight female beneficiaries, and Sunil Kumar Yadav, the Additional Development Officer of social welfare of the Maniyar block, Amar Ujala reported.

One of the villager also alleged that some of them were made to pose as grooms (video below) in exchange for money. According to a report by Live Hindustan, the government was to have spent Rs 51,000 on each couple participating in the event. While Rs 35,000 was to be transferred to the bride’s bank account, gifts worth of Rs 10,000 were to be handed out to each couple. The rest was to have been spent on other wedding expenses.