In 2018, a farmer named Balwinder Singh, from Dhanaula village in Punjab’s Barnala district felt that the five acres of his land were not enough to secure a secure future for his son Lovepreet. He assessed that sending the young man to settle in Canada would be fruitful.
This was not an incredible thought. Because in the previous few decades, many youths from Punjab went for emigration in large numbers to countries like the USA, Canada, and Australia, building a huge Punjabi diaspora abroad.
Some Major Cases of Cheating that happening recently
However, Lovepreet had only finished his higher secondary exams. He did not have the English language capabilities and other required qualifications to get a student visa to Canada.
So the family figured out an alternative arrangement. In the nearby town of Khudi Kalan, they found a match to marry Lovepreet. Beant Kaur was a distant relative of Lovepreet. And she had all the requirements – including a great score in IELTS- an international standardized test to prove English language proficiency for non-native English speakers. This test is needed to effortlessly get a student visa in Canada. The student visa would lead to a job permit for the young woman and also a spouse visa which would allow Lovepreet to move to Canada as well. After this step, Both of them could separate or divorce if they wanted to.
The agreement began well. Lovepreet’s family gave nearly Rs. 25 lakh to send Beant abroad. After that Beant left for Ontario on August 19, 2018, to do a master’s in computer science. After a year, she returned to Barnala to tie the knot with Lovepreet on August 7. And on the Tenth day, she left for Ontario again, promising Lovepreet that she would shortly send for him.
But after her return to Canada, Beant started to avoid Lovepreet’s messages. As time flew, Lovepreet began to understand that she had no motive for keeping her side of the bargain. Then, early morning of June 23, 2021, Lovepreet deceased under mysterious circumstances, he was found dead in the family’s fields.
Why people are taking this type of marriage route for emigration?
Many Punjabi men find it hard to clear the IELTS exam, without this exam they have no opportunity of applying to international universities. Thus, it has become a routine practice for them to enter into ‘contract marriages’ with women who can get all the necessary qualifications to be admitted to Western universities. This type of route has not only created a law and order problem for the Punjab Government but also has become another route to bypass the legal requirements for emigrating to foreign nations.
According to the non-resident Indians (NRI) branch of the Punjab Police, there have been nearly 186 complaints about contract marriages in the state since 2019, each alleging that the woman deceived the man after she went abroad. Hence, based on this type of complaint, 30 FIRs have been reported so far.
However, many contract marriage complaints end in a settlement between the parties involved, as happened in the case of Jaswinder Dhaliwal, a young man from Barnala. He married a woman in 2020 with suitable IELTS qualifications to settle down in Canada Nevertheless, he was instead cheated like Lovepreet before him.
Jaswinder had decided to go for a contract marriage because he could see any other way to achieve his goal to settle abroad. He said, “To qualify for admission in a Canadian university, you need a 6.5 band in the IELTS exam overall.” He further added “But despite repeated attempts at the exam, many men fail to qualify in the range that Canadian authorities demand. Then their families begin to explore other ways to send their kids abroad, which often leads to different problems.”
Why Young aspirants are so desperate to leave?
Contract marriage deceptions arise because of apparent desperation among the young people of Punjab to live elsewhere in the world.
Ranjit Singh Ghuman, a professor of economics at the Center for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, Chandigarh, said that this desperation to move abroad is due to the shortage of job opportunities in the state.
“Punjab could not be developed as an economic hub like other states of India. Therefore the youth in Punjab do not have the kind of job and business opportunities they aspire to,” told Ranjit Singh. “When they hear the success stories of super-rich Punjabis settled abroad, they become naturally inclined towards finding ways, whether legal or illegal, to settle abroad,” he further added.
Over the years, as boundaries around the world tightened, several emigrations from Punjab were illegal. There are many ways to illegally immigrate to foreign countries. One well-known system is the ‘donkey system’, in which expatriates enter the country they are intending to via multiple stops in other countries. This is a common but risky method that has killed many young Punjabis in the forests of Mexico as they attempted to cross the US border illegally.
Another way to bypass the legal migration system is the IELTS contract marriage. The couple is lawfully married before one spouse sets off to the targeted foreign country where, after some period, the other spouse is legally authorized to enter.
Are There Any Solutions to such Frauds?
Jaswinder Dhaliwal currently operates a small, informal support organization for other men with the same problem as he had been. Furthermore, he has become more of an expert on contract marriages.
Even Justin Trudeau, the PM of Canada, could not propose a better solution than to point out that striving immigrants to Canada must safeguard themselves from fraud.
Trudeau told this at a media briefing in Canada the previous month in answer to a letter from Manisha Gulati. She is the Punjab State Women’s Commission chairperson, who has put forward the case of the exploitation of Punjabi youngsters in the name of Canadian citizenship and advised Trudeau to take rapid and severe action to stop this exploitation and get the culprits to justice.
All in all, it’s better to work harder to achieve one’s dream than to depend on anyone to do it for you. Moreover, People should never try to follow illegal ways because at the end of the day it can get them into trouble.