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MY INDIAN WEDDING DISASTER; He says: I was just her ticket to England She says: He ran off with pounds 6,000 dowry.

Byline: AMARDEEP BASSEY

A HUSBAND accused of ditching his Indian bride before running off back to Birmingham with a pounds 6,000 dowry claims he was used by her family as a 'ticket to England'.

Lakhvinder Singh, 31, said he was tricked into marrying Paramjit Kaur when he travelled to the Punjab in India to visit relatives.

He spent only a week getting to know his 21-year-old future bride and another two days with her after the marriage ceremony.

On his return to England, he promised her he would apply join him infor her toBirmingham. But he told the Sunday Mercury that he refused to cooperate when he later discovered she intended to leave him once she had got her British citizenship.

Now Mrs Kaur's devastated family are pleading for the return of pounds 6,000 worth of jewellery they claim they gave Mr Singh as a dowry.

Her father, Piara Singh, complained to the British High Commission in New Delhi, which had already received dozens of similar complaints.

It prompted officials there to issue a statement last week claiming that thousands of Indian women were being cheated out of their dowries.

A spokesman said police forces throughout the UK were being warned of British-born Indian men travelling to the sub-continent for marriage before abandoning their brides and making off with 'quite substantial' dowries.

Last night, Mr Singh told the Sunday Mercury he had never received a dowry and claimed it was his family who bore all the cost of the lavish wedding ceremony in April 1999.

He said: 'It all happened so fast that I felt very confused when I got back.

'Our families have known each other for years and I had no qualms about marrying Paramjit because that was my family's wish.

'I had no problems with Paramjit and I returned to England hoping to buy a house for us before applying for her to come and join me.'

He added: 'When I got back I heard from mutual cousins in Punjab that our marriage had been a ruse to get Paramjit into the UK and that once she was here she planned to leave me and start applying for her own relatives to come and join her.

'I felt betrayed and used so I cut off all communication with Paramjit's family.

'But her relatives in the UK continued to harass and threaten me, trying to pressurise me into getting her here.'

Miss Kaur's family refute the claims. Speaking from the village of Natha, Paramjit's father, Piara Singh, told the Sunday Mercury: 'I used all my life savings on this marriage and have lost out on all fronts.

'My daughter is still at home and feels suicidal because of the shame it has brought on our family.

'All we want now is for Lakhvinder to return the dowry so that we can try and rebuild our lives.

'He shattered my daughter's dreams and he has made fools out of us.'

Thousands of British-born Asians travel to the subcontinent every year to marry partners from their ancestral homeland.

Most go quite willingly in their search for a partner with traditional Indian values untainted by Western society.

But some, mainly young girls, are pressured by their families to travel to Asia and only discover they are to be wed once they arrive.

Detective Inspector Gill Baker, of West Midlands Police, said: 'Forced marriages are a big problem but we have never come across the issue of brides being cheated out of their dowries.

'The biggest problem is that families who have been used like this will try and keep it quiet because of the embarrassment and to protect the family honour.

'Ultimately, it is a civil issue rather than criminal and, unless the law changes, all we can do is advise people that they make absolutely sure about the motives behind them getting married in India rather than in their country of birth.'

CAPTION(S):

TRICKED... Lakhvinder at home in Birmingham; DREAM DAY... Lakhvinder and Paramjit on their wedding day
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUE
Date:Sep 29, 2002
Words:671
Previous Article:Independence push.
Next Article:Crash family hunt.


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