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  • NRI Herald

A new bastion of an "Unholy Alliance" : IELTS marriage scam

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

Reported by Prashant Sharma & Lokesh Sharma - Published by NRI Herald 14 July 2021

Disclaimer: NRI Herald is breaking this true story after due diligence to bring justice to the grooms from punjab, which lately become a bastion for alliances purely based on covetousness for getting visa & permanent residency of countries like Australia, Canada and New Zealand and this time the victim are not patriarchal wife beaters but unadorned partners.

Indian state Punjab is suffering from a growing problem of illegal contract marriages that are often used to arrange visas to countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Mostly girls qualified with good ielts score are asked by boy side families for contract marriage. So first bride will go on student visa, later once she is settled, she will invite her married partner. So both brides and grooms families agrees to terms for marriage and invest in the marriages contract. There are many such portals which has sprung up all across social media in the state of punjab.

NRI Herald had a word with one of lawyer back in india and he said:

"The concept of contract marriage is not applicable in India, though it has been accepted in foreign countries but does not have any legal acceptance in India."

Several marriage agents have sprung up all across punjab whose job is to find girls with high IELTS score in exchange of hefty amount and then arrange for marriage via "kangaroo" courts,but the real problems arise once brides reach abroad on student VISA. It’s an arduous process for a student to get permanent residency before he/she is eligible to invite his/her partner from India - Punjab. Brides slowly finds their way and walk away from relationship and stops communicating. Many of the boys families have been found filing formal complaints in police and NGOs.

one of the victim shared his story with NRI Herald and said :

"he came to Australia 9 years ago with his wife who was a student, while his wife studied, he worked full time on Partner Visa and paid for her education as well as household expenses. After completing the studies, his wife left him and filed for her own Permanent Visa alone, with plans to invite some other visa aspirant as her partner in exchange of cash, as per Gurdeep."

NRI Herald also met Gurdev, who has recently arrived in Australia as an accounting student and openly said:

He has no confidence in his ability to get a Permanent Visa through skilled migration and looking for a match where his family can sponsor girl's education so that he can work full-time on a partner visa.

This has been accepted as a new normal in Punjab whereby many agents have sprung up to cash in on the opportunity, to bring together willing prospects and make a quick buck in the process. Facebook pages such as IELTS Boys_Girls Marriage Bureau have mushroomed on the social media platforms. In common parlance in Punjab, it is known as a ‘Contract Marriage’. The common modus operandi is families of young men who want to settle abroad and ready to go to any extent for that, enter into a matrimonial alliance with girls who have achieved desired IELTS bands (or in some cases PTE) which is an English language proficiency test and gives these girls a fair chance of getting a study Visa in countries such as UK, Canada, Australia New Zealand. Boy’s family foots the bill for Visa, travel cost as well as tuition fee, total expense may run up to INR 25 to 50 Lakhs ($50K to $100K). If things go as per planned the girl is supposed to invite the boy on spouse Visa and they may live happily ever after in their land of opportunity, although in most cases the story do not have a happy ending.

Situation is especially dire in case of families sending daughter in law alone (single Visas are relatively easier to get than couples) with a hope that they would later send spouse visa for their son to go abroad as well, never to hear from them again or even sending them to jail just in case they somehow arrive in foreign land.

In a report quoted by India TV, it is estimated that money spent by groom’s family to fund such brides’ education/ travel in a hope to settle their sons abroad has been close to 150 crores ($30 million) in just last 5 years with UK, Canada & Australia being the most favoured destinations. Nearly 3600 brides later cheated their in-laws and disowned their husbands after settling abroad, with the money gone down the drain. The same report claims that Ministry of External Affairs has been approached by more than 3300 such families with an overwhelming majority of the cases from Punjab. There are hundreds of cases from each village in Punjab where the brides after landing overseas change their phone numbers and remain not reachable forever. While worst cases include sending their (Contract) husbands to jail by making false charges. Most of these false charges include sexual harassment, physical assault or dowry. In handful of cases bride and her family have been arrested as well.

In one such case from Ludhiana-Punjab, groom’s family transferred INR 10 Lakh ($20K) to the bride’s parents, however the girl’s Visa got rejected. The girl immediately left for her parent’s place in Sangrur and her family refused to pay back the money, additionally they filed a fake dowry case against the boy’s family. After a long legal battle, the charges were dropped and the groom’s family filed a counter suit for fraud. While the girl and her family got arrested no money has been recovered. Existing Indian Marriage laws provide hardly any remedy against these sophisticated frauds, especially in the case where brides are already in foreign locations with local police having no jurisdiction in the area. There is no specific policy for grooms who have been cheated by their wives.

NRI Herald wishes to warn all the unsuspecting readers to do a thorough research before getting into such alliance and staking lakhs of hard earned money on such unholy alliances. There are legal and better ways to move abroad. Beware of fake agents and middlemen who are in it for easy money by targeting the youth looking for shortcuts to a fairy-tale life abroad. Society must introspect as to what lead to such moral downfall of once a proud culture that even a sacred institution of marriage is not spared from its ever-increasing greed.

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