Wednesday, August 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Check exploitation of Punjabi girls
60 MPs tell Amarinder Singh
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 27
Upset over the growing incidence of exploitation of girls by “overseas Punjabis” on the pretext of marrying them and subsequently dumping them back home has provoked the President of the Lok Bhalai Party and Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, to organise a movement to check this serious “social menace”.

Alarmed by the “seriousness of the problem”, 59 MPs cutting across party lines have joined Mr Ramoowalia in a joint endeavour to put a stop to this problem. The first stop for 60 MPs was Chandigarh, where they submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and sought his immediate intervention to “preserve the chastity and dignity of Indian women” by bringing into action the law enforcement agencies to bring the “errant NRIs to book”.

A delegation led by Mr Ramoowalia comprising Mr Bhola Singh Virk, Mr Avtar Singh Mulanpuri, Mr Ajay Kumar Bhadaur, Ms Daljit Kaur and Ms Paramjit Kaur Nahar, met the Chief Minister and presented him a copy of the memorandum signed by 60 MPs.

The MPs who signed the memorandum include Justice Ranga Nath Mishra, Mr Satish Pradhan, Mr Ahmed Patel, Mr Kartar Singh Duggal, Mr Oscar Fernandes, Mr Kapil Sibal, Mr Sang Priya Gautam, Mr S.S. Ahluwalia, Mr Suresh Kalmadi, Ms Sarla Maheshwari, Ms Savita Sharda, Mr Kalraj Mishra, Mr H.S. Malik, Mr Kuldip Nayyar, Gen Shankar Raichowdhary, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, Mrs Parneet Kaur , Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar and Dr Prabha Thakur.

In fact, Mr Ramoowalia raised this issue at a state-level function held at Longowal village on August 20 and expressed his deep concern over the manner in which some of the “manipulative Punjabi NRIs, already married, come back home , get married, gobble up dowry, exploit their brides, put them on tenterhooks and never take them abroad”.

“As of now there are at least 10,000 such cases where the victims are languishing in various parts of the state without ever hearing again from their “so-called husbands” again. The girls continue to live their lives in desolation and misery. Such marriages are organised through shady marriage bureaux, misleading matrimonial advertisements or greedy middlemen by promising greener pastures abroad.

“The main exploiters come from the UK, the USA, Canada and a few other Western countries,” said Mr Ramoowalia holding that some of the victims are bringing up children on their own from fraudulent wedlocks.

This unethical trend usually leads to widespread domestic discord, even violence, besides wreaking financial havoc with the victims’ families.

“We view this cruelty with young married girls very seriously. The other area of concern is that the fraudulent husbands habitually mislead and misguide the girls and their parents about their marital status and give false information to the immigration authorities of the country of their migration which creates problems even in case of genuine immigrants.

“Unfortunately, no action is being initiated against such fraudulent practice by law enforcing agencies on the complaints of aggrieved girls. Instead, the guilty grooms and their parents are supported. In most of the cases, the complainants are put off saying that the case was out of the jurisdiction of police here.

“We want that the Punjab Police in close coordination with Delhi immigration authorities should set up a permanent cell at Delhi to stop the guilty NRI grooms fleeing from India. Special fast track courts should also be set up in Punjab to try cases involving NRI grooms besides providing relief to the aggrieved girls. Every NRI groom before getting married must be asked to file a sworn affidavit about his marital status. All the illegal and unauthorised marriage bureaus in the state should be banned. Action should be taken against those policemen who do not initiate timely action against erring NRI grooms,” said Mr Ramoowalia in the memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister.

While neither the Indian Government nor Punjab Government has initiated any steps to check this problem, the Commonwealth Office in Great Britain has already started a special project on “forced marriages” as in a number of cases of exploitation of young brides, the marriages were found to be “forced” and not “organised”.

A number of police teams from various parts of England have already visited Punjab to study various aspects of social life here to study the genesis of this problem of ‘forced marriages”.


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