Express News Service
PUNJAB: In their craze for settling abroad, many young Punjabi brides and grooms end up being cheated and abandoned by their husbands and wives. Satwinder Kaur of Toosa village in Ludhiana district of Punjab is one such woman. She was cheated on by her husband and dumped back in Punjab around 11 years back. Satwinder has helped 700 young women abandoned by their husbands. She is also helping 40 husbands duped by their wives. In 2016, Satwinder formed an NGO ‘Abb Nahi Social Welfare Society’ and started helping the abandoned women. She got the society registered in 2018.
“I got married on February 23, 2009. He was a teacher. In 2010, he decided to go abroad. He went to Georgia and then from there to Ukraine. He works there as a foreign student coordinator in a private company,” recalls Satwinder. “I never knew his intentions that he would not take me along with him. He left in 2010 and then after almost five years, returned on July 20, 2015. I was very excited to see him. But five days later, he was disowned by his family and we moved to rented accommodation. On August 16, 2015, he told my parents that within three months, he will take me with him. That never happened,” says Satwinder. In January 2016, Satwinder complained to the state NRI cell.
In July that year, her husband filed for a divorce in a Ludhiana court which was dismissed, and then in February 2017, a case was registered under the IPC Sections 406 and 498 against her husband and in-laws. “I then filed a maintenance case and on October 30, 2017, and I was granted `10,000 per month. My husband’s passport was impounded in August 2018,” she says. Satwinder says the idea to start the NGO came when she had to visit the court frequently where she saw many young girls struggling to get justice. “I then decided to form a society.
While a few girls met me in police stations and courts, I contacted others through Facebook and other social media platforms, besides at seminars conducted by NRI cells and the National Commission for Women,” she adds. She also contacted then MP Parneet Kaur and later on, other MPs Sunny Deol , Bhagwant Mann and Ravneet Singh Bittu. In 2018, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) held conferences after which notices had been sent to gurdwaras across the world about Sikh youths who had abandoned their wives after marriage. The Ministry of External Affairs was also approached to intervene and talks with other countries and procure documentation of such husbands.
The Regional Passport Office (RPO) of Chandigarh and Amritsar started impounding passports of such NRI husbands. “But a few of them have changed their names and are getting new passports issued,” she says. According to her, there are 32,000 women in Punjab and Haryana who have been duped by their husbands.
The “honeymoon brides” are in the age group of 22 to 65 years and have been waiting for their husbands for decades. “Most of these women are yet to get justice due to lack of action against their husbands by the state government,” she says. “Around 700 girls and 40 men have approached our NGO. We have got the cases registered and also got lookout circulars issued and passports impounded. We have also got 20 couples reunited after counselling,” she says.