Blog, stories and articles on personal issues and challenges faced by South Asians and Non Resident Indians (NRIs)

NRI grooms tortured and fleeced by Indian brides

After a year of his marriage in 2003, Jatinder who married Seema (names changed) returned to India from California at his wife’s nagging, unaware that he was landing into deep trouble. At his in-laws’ house, he was drugged, threatened at gunpoint, imprisoned illegally for weeks, forced to pay $60,000 and forced to apply for visas for the rest of Seema’s family, according to his complaint with US immigration authorities. After his family in the US informed FBI in New Delhi and Delhi Police, he was freed.

How an Indian bride cheated and harassed New York’s renowned Ambati family has set a new, low standard for rotten NRI marriages. Well known for their social and community service with donations in thousands of dollars, the Ambati family was harassed by their daughter-in-law, Archana, just four months after her marriage in 1995. Archana accused her husband, Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati, and his family of demanding Rs.50,000 ($1,200) in dowry and mental and physical abuse, right on the day they were due to be honoured with a major award during a visit to Andhra Pradesh.

Instead of the celebration, they were taken into custody under section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code. Dragging for four years, the case reached the Supreme Court. In 1996, the court dismissed all charges, but Archana appealed. During the trial, the Ambatis produced an audiotape in which Archana’s father, Nanda, demanded US $500,000 to drop all the charges.

Although the prosecution opposed this evidence, the court in February 1999 admitted this evidence. Archana then wrote to the ministers for Home Affairs and Law & Parliamentary Affairs that she was “unconditionally withdrawing” all charges against the Ambati family.

The Ambatis paid a high price as they were separated for three years, and eminent physician Dr. B. Ambati, Jayakrishna Ambati’s brother, lost two years of his professional career in addition to financial losses and mental trauma.

These are just two of thousands of cases of NRI grooms who are cheated, defrauded, hounded and extorted by Indian brides who manipulate the highly biased dowry laws of India. Conniving Indian brides who make false complaints under IPC 498A, torture not just the grooms but also their parents, siblings and the extended families.

The coy Indian bride, has undergone a sinister makeover. The educated girl gets married to an unsuspecting NRI groom for reasons other than holy matrimony. The ‘underground’ reasons for marriage include: supporting her family in India by transferring large sums of money from her husband’s earnings; nagging her husband for obtaining a Green Card or immigration to the rich countries for her parents or siblings, filing a divorce in the new country as soon as possible to settle down on her own or with her boyfriend, claiming huge sums of money by filing false dowry harassment charges, among others.

Filing a non-bailable dowry case under IPC 498A is easier than ordering a meal. But while a restaurant can refuse service, the police normally arrest the groom and the in-laws. While the Indian media is flooded with reports of dowry-related bride torture, it hardly mentions the horrific cases of suffering husbands at the hands of cunning wives.

After matters reached a critical stage, a police unit for the grievances of the husbands was formed, but it is far short of the response required. Thus many vocal groups of so-called 498A Victims have been formed over the Internet with websites, blogs and web groups to highlight their horror stories, lists of victims and help and advice for men in this dire situation.

NRI husbands are at a further disadvantage in this scenario. A travel warning on “Dowry/Visa Demands” by the US Department of State at warns: “A number of U.S.-citizen men who have come to India to marry Indian nationals have been arrested and charged with crimes related to dowry extraction. Many of the charges stem from the U.S. citizen’s inability to provide an immigrant visa for his prospective spouse to travel immediately to the United States.

“The courts sometimes order the U.S. citizen to pay large sums of money to his spouse in exchange for the dismissal of charges. The courts normally confiscate the American’s passport, and he must remain in India until the case has been settled.” Sometimes, the parents are also kept in jail. And the cases drag on, and on in courts. The complicated Indian administrative machinery is greased by bribes and NRIs are not adept at this game.

A Ministry of Overseas Indians booklet warning about NRI husbands defrauding their newly-wedded wives queered the pitch against NRIs, resulting in a vitriolic response as it paints all NRIs in a very negative manner. An article about this problem in this column had a similar reaction from scores of NRIs and the 498A victims.

NRI marriage dreams can turn into nightmares - both for wives and husbands. - IANS

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