Honeymoon Brides of Punjab
- Pallavi Priya
- Published on 21 Aug 2020, 2:10 pm IST
- 7 minutes read
It would take a hero to help thousands of Punjab women who became victims of `marriage of convenience’, perpetrated by their NRI husbands. IPS officer Sibash Kabiraj is the hero, as also the nemesis for these husbands as many of them now find themselves in jails.
- IPS officer Sibash Addressing a conference
Making young and vulnerable women `honeymoon brides’ is a racket, and it is what the name suggests. In all these cases, the so-called husband is a Non-Resident Indian (NRI). He marries a woman in India on the promise of taking her abroad with him. Only, he does not do it. Once their “honeymoon’’ in India is over, the `loving’ husband dumps the newly married wife and flies back alone to the foreign shore from where he had come from.
But now the shoe is in the other foot. Senior IPS officer Mr Sibash Kabiraj, having decided to make life hell for the absconding husbands, has emerged as a big protector for these stranded and beleaguered brides.
Mr Kabiraj’s success rate is stunning. He has managed to impound 450 passports belonging to the accused. And 73 of them have also been arrested and put behind bars!
Real Life Case
It was 2013 and Amrit, a simple girl from Patiala, Punjab was working in England. Her parents wanted to get her married. So, she came back to India with dreams of a perfect life partner. Once in India, met a NRI who was an Australian citizen. According to her parents, it couldn’t get any better as the man was perfect match for her. They got married in a `gurudwara’ and with lots of blessings Amrit was send off to her in-laws. As her husband had promised, she was wishing to leave for Australia in few weeks. She was happy and wasn’t aware about what was coming for her.
On the very second day of her marriage she came to know about the evil plans of her husband and his mother. They began to torture her and asked money from her parents. When she refused, they sent her back to her parents promising to pick her up next day. It’s been almost seven years and the next day has not come. However, after one year of the marriage her husband sent her a divorce notice. This devasted her. It’s then that Amrit came to know that he was not the only one cheated by the NRI man. He had already married one girl in Delhi and two in Punjab.
Amrit is not the only victim. There are more than 30,000 thousand girls like her who are facing similar plight and couldn’t do anything. But they found more than a ray of hope, nay an actual crusader who would genuinely come to their help, in the form of 1999-batch IPS officer Sibash Kabiraj. At the time, he was posted at the Regional Passport officer, Chandigarh.
Kabiraj had already got a pat on the back from the Ministry of External Affairs, for having cleared a backlog of lakhs of pending passports in the Passport Office of Chandigarh.
It was at this passport office that Kabiraj came to know about the plight of `honeymoon brides’. He decided to take the bull by the horn and go after the offenders in a big way. He found that some of the NRI husbands had deserted their wives within a week of the marriage. Even in case of other women who bore children, it became clear that for the NRIs these were simply marriages of convenience.
Kabiraj decided to help them in every possible way. Speaking with Indian Masterminds, he saidsa, “While I was working on the pending passport issue, a group of 15 girls visited me and shared their story with me. They had least hope as NRI commission or the police did not do anything for them. I had to do something and I am glad that with the help of the girls I found a way out. The section 10 of the Passport act allows the RPOs right to impound or revoke passport if the holder has a criminal case pending or is a proclaimed offender. All I needed was the proper documents to take action against the NRIs. So, I took a step ahead.”
Together We Can
Impounding or revoking anyone’s passport is a lengthy process, as it involves police and court. Kabiraj needed a team to manage it. So, he roped the victims in his campaign. He organized a seminar where the girls were informed about the law. They were trained so that they could assist the officers. The IPS officer also arranged a place for the girls in the office where they could work. Now, those girls are working with other two women officers who have volunteered in this task. Together they would arrange all the documents like FIR, warrants and do the paper work in proper format. After this the files are sent to Kabiraj’s desk, where he examines it and orders for impounding the passport of the offender. They have also created a helpline number where the victims can approach without fear and seek help. Kabiraj said, “the hhole purpose of roping the victims in the task was that they are more sensitive and willing to do this job. Since they have faced similar situation, they provide succour to the other victims when they reach them in the office or talk to them through helpline number. This has also helped in accelerating the whole process.”
A Happy Amrit
As the word of Kabiraj’s campaign spread, about 2000 women reached to the RPO office in Chandigarh. Even in this pandemic situation, they are getting 2-3 complaints daily and they are trying their best to help the victims.
Amrit, who is working with the team said, “These NRIs have only one weakness and that is their passport. We knew that impounding the passport will affect them because they couldn’t move in the country where they live or even come back to India if they want to meet their parents or relatives. We got the expected results. Some of them are making contact with the victim even before we move the process. They are ready for out of court settlement and give the victim their alimony. In my case, only my mother in-law’s passport has been impounded. We couldn’t do anything about my husband because he has an Australian citizenship. Even if I couldn’t get a proper justice, I am happy that I can be a help in others fight.”
Under the leadership of Sibash his team was able to impound to 450 passports. Thirty seven passports have also been revoked and they are also working on 134 other cases. Seventy three offenders have been arrested after they came to India. Talking about his achievement, the IPS officer says, “It is just a start. I hope we will get more results in coming days. When I began my work, I knew this process will take a lot of time and would be hectic. For some cases even I have to appear in courtrooms but when we win a case and the victim and her family comes to visit me and say thank you, I can’t explain how much satisfaction it gives me.”
Amrit said Sibash was like a God for them. “He stood for us when nobody elese did,’’ she added.
MEA Spreads the Good Work
Sibash’s effort are no longer limited to his parent state Punjab. His achievements have reached the External Affairs Ministry. The MEA, while appreciating the IPS officer’s efforts and achievements, has now instructed RPOs in other places to do the same.
Sibash is justifiably proud of the help he has been providing to the so-called `honeymoon brides’. One hopes the other states too would start working in earnest and go after the culprits the way this Punjab cop has.
END OF THE ARTICLE