Assamese girl exposes bride market
CHANDIGARH: The arrest of three people involved in the sale of a 20-year-old Assamese girl to a 40-year-old man in Hisar has exposed a burgeoning trade in trafficking of women in parts of Haryana that's increasingly seeing the number of men desperate for wives go up by the day due to the skewed sex ratio.
Girls, mostly from Assam and other parts of the north-east, are being sold to waiting grooms for anything between Rs 50,000 to Rs 100,000, police told TOI on Tuesday. There are well-organized gangs operating in this rapidly lucrative “trade'', sources said, adding that rich bachelors don't mind shelling out more if the “quality'' of the bride is good.
The matter came to light when the girl escaped from the clutches of Omar Ali and his wife Meena, who had sold her off to Baljeet Singh, a resident of Hisar district, to tell her tale to the police. All three have been arrested and charged with rape and kidnapping. The victim said there were seven other girls who had been brought along with her from Lakhimpur in Assam five months back. There is no trace of them yet.
Sources said a special “market'' has been running in Surya Nagar, Hisar, since the last year or so where buyers and sellers of women converge to strike quick deals. Hisar SSP Sibash Kabiraj confirmed the expose and said, “Such gangs sell girls from the north-east to the rich and old Haryanvis for lakhs. It's getting serious.''
In his defence, Baljeet Singh, a resident of Burre, said, “I waited for many years but no one came with an offer of marriage. My parents too are growing old day by day and the pressure to get married is immense. Five months back, I went to the bride market and bought the girl. I paid Rs 55,000 for her.''
It didn't matter to him that his “bride'' was pregnant at that time and already had a five-year-old daughter back home in Assam. The girl, who could escape from her forced marriage with Baljeet after five months of torturous existence, told the police she made good her escape on Monday and decided to brush off threats to spill the beans regarding the “dirty business''. Calling it a shameful trend, Shakuntla Jakhar, a Hisar-based leader of All India Democratic Women Association, said, “At the root of all this is female foeticide. Things can be tackled, albeit in the longer run, through a save-girl campaign.''
Incidentally, Haryanvi men too are falling victim to a reverse trend in which gangs arrange ‘wives' through fake marriages after training the girls to rob their husbands a few days into the marriage.