Friday, July 20, 2007


Activists frown on Indian domestic violence law

Activists frown on Indian domestic violence law

Many Indian American activists have opposed India’s newly enacted law against domestic violence, saying its several provisions lend themselves to misuse and could lead to more broken homes.

Activists who spoke to IANS said they feared the law would be misused like the earlier anti-dowry law (Sec 498a of Indian Penal Code). A large number of Indian Americans have complained that section 498a was used against them to extort money.

The activists urged that the new law be made ‘gender neutral’, with a greater emphasis on counselling as in the West. They said misuse of the new law would affect women too and would bring minor differences in a marriage to a point of no return.

‘It is a great law to get even with in-laws,’ said one woman who spoke on condition of anonymity. ‘Or if you want to marry some rich guy and then get rid of him.’

Others said the provisions of the domestic violence law were too expansive.

‘A significant flaw in this law is that it lends itself to such easy misuse that women will find it hard to resist the temptation to ‘teach a lesson’ to their male relatives and will file frivolous cases,’ said Avinash Gupta, an India American.

‘A similar trend has been shown in the anti-dowry law, which is being misused to such an extent that the Supreme Court (in India) has termed it ‘legal terrorism’.

‘There are three fundamental problems with this new law,’ said Gupta. ‘It is overwhelmingly gender biased in favour of women, the potential for misuse is astounding, and the definition of domestic violence is too expansive.’

Gupta advocated the enactment of a ‘domestic harmony’ law instead.

‘It (the new law) makes it very easy to escalate domestic problems to such a level that it eventually leads to a breakdown in marriage. Once a man is arrested for a relatively minor offence - like perceived insult - he will perpetually feel threatened by his partner, and that is the beginning of the end. This law will lead to more broken homes and children will ultimately pay the price.

‘Going by the domestic violence law’s definition of abuse, how many men are victims? After all, nagging wives are common enough,’ said Gupta.

Some of the most vociferous opposition to the new law is from women, some of whom have been victims of cases filed under 498a.

‘If a man cannot put up with a woman, he cannot throw a fit, that would be abuse. Under the new law, a woman can have it both ways. A woman who wants to stay in the marriage or opt out of it - irrespective of the husband’s wishes - can leverage the law,’ said Uma Challa, a doctoral student.

‘Given the corruption in the Indian legal system, especially among police personnel, the outcome will not be what the lawmakers desired,’ said Dipak, another Indian American.

‘The police will use the law to harass or enter into money making deals with either party,’ he said.

‘The law imposes a responsibility on men, without giving them rights. On the other hand, it gives rights to women without requiring them to be responsible. It should be made gender neutral, offering protection to both men and women. Doing so will not take away anything from women victims,’ said Gupta.

Satya, a California-based volunteer who runs [b][/b] website, sees a number of victims seeking help from non-resident Indians around the world.

He said: ‘The law would create the same set of innocent victims that the anti-dowry law had. Every year, about 200,000 families go through hell because some women misuse this (498a) law.’

Dipak referred to a statement by Renuka Chowdhury, the Indian minister of state for women and child development, that men who were harassed under these laws, were in a ‘microscopic minority’. ‘Even accepting her statement, should we, in the minority, not be entitled to some protection?’ he asked.

Activists said the law could often go to ludicrous lengths. ‘Under the law, if a wife decides not to cook and wishes to eat out in a restaurant every day, the husband can’t afford not to oblige her lest he invite the provision for ‘not providing food’, for which he could be jailed,’ Satya said.

Although the law cannot be enforced in the US, many Indian Americans have been victims of the anti-dowry law, by vindictive ex-wives and their parents.

‘For them, it is a good source of earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in return for withdrawing the case. Indian American men and women have been arrested, sometimes at the airport itself, when they have gone to India to visit relatives,’ added Satya.

Being a politically sensitive issue, activists said they see no hope of a more equitable version of the law in the near future.

‘The domestic violence law protects you only if you are a daughter-in-law. For catering to their vote banks, politicians are dividing Indian society on the basis of gender,’ said Challa.

Meanwhile, hapless Indian American men turn to blogs like ’savemarriages’ for advice, even debating whether marrying a woman from India is a risky proposition.

One advisory, apparently from an experienced practitioner, examines other options and offers this advice: ‘Don’t get involved with Indian women. Russian women are better looking, homely, nice and much more reasonable and logical.’

- By Ashok Easwaran

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Sehgal gave wife Rs 4.5 lakh, but she wanted more — a divorce

Extortion by wife

New Delhi, May 3: “I HAVE no problems with Reena staying with my husband at my house.” This was the statement that reportedly prompted Kishori Lal Sehgal to shoot at himself. Reena is Sehgal’s wife and the statement came from Surinder Kaur, wife of one Jitender Singh Ahluwalia alias Jeetu with whom Reena allegedly has an affair.

The police said Sehgal had given Rs 4.5 lakh to Reena in March, but she wanted more money, and a divorce. In February this year, Reena filed a dowry case with the Crime Against Women Cell, and started living with Jeetu. On Thursday morning at 10.30 am, both Sehgal and Reena had come to CAW Cell at Nanakpura to attend the hearing of the case. Reena, who had charged Sehgal with dowry harassment, mental and physical torture, was accompanied by Jeetu and Surinder.

After the hearing was over, sources said, Surinder told Sehgal that she would keep Reena with her. Sehgal then went to Nehru Park, near the Prime Minister’s residence, wrote a suicide note and shot himself. The police are verifying if he had a licence for the gun. The bullet missed his heart by just 5 cm, but he survived his second suicide attempt. Sehgal had tried to immolate himself a couple of days ago, said a police officer.

According to the police, Jeetu is a resident of Old Mahavir Nagar in Tilak Nagar and has been in a relationship with Reena even before she married Sehgal four years ago. Sehgal had married Reena after he got a divorce from his first wife, Prem Jyoti, with whom he has a son, Rahul. He has another son, Ansh, with Reena.

Additional Commissioner of Police, CAW Cell, Tajender Luthra said: “We have counselled the couple during hearings. We don’t know what had happened between them. Reena was not staying with Sehgal.”


Try reconciliation before arrest in dowry cases, says Raj HC

Try reconciliation before arrest in dowry cases, says Raj HC

27 April 2007

In a significant decision on dowry cases, Rajasthan High Court has directed the police to first attempt 'reconciliation' efforts between estranged couples rather than concentrating on 'immediate arrest' of the husband and in-laws.

Justice Dalip Singh gave this order yesterday while admitting the petition of Subhash of village Atela near Jaipur. Subhash was having trouble in his domestic life and his wife lodged a dowry harassment case against him. Later there were indications of reconciliation between Subhash and his wife. But someone instigated his wife to lodge an FIR, which sent her in-laws to jail for harassing her for dowry. This enraged Subhash and he refused to take in his wife again.

The court sent a copy of the order to Director General of Police and asked all police station incharges to take legal advise in dowry harassment cases.

The court said the police should show restraint and first try reconciliation efforts between the parties with the help of family and friends for cases lodged under Section 498 and 406 of IPC.

The court said the police is free to effect immediate arrest but should try to take the help of mediators first. Immediate arrests often become stumbling blocks and close doors for negotiations and the most affected are the innocent children whose mental development is also stymied.


Desperate housewives kill hubbies

Desperate Housewives kill hubbies....

Desperate housewives kill hubbies

Divyesh Singh

Stories of husbands assaulting their wives are common. But in an equally horrific reversal of roles, two housewives in Thane killed their husbands in the last two days.

Burnt to death

In the first incident, Anila Pommy, 40, set on fire her 38-year-old husband, professional photographer Rajendra Pommy, in Ambernath, on Saturday morning. According to the police, the Pommys had been married for 15 years and had four children.

Rajendra, however, had secretly married another woman from his hometown in Punjab two years ago and brought her to Mumbai, the police said. He bought his second wife a flat in Badlapur and had been living with her, rarely visiting Anila and their children. “He did not pay attention to Anila and the children and did not take care of the household expenses. They quarrelled very often,” the investigating officer told DNA.

On Friday night, Rajendra was at his Ambernath home and a quarrel erupted between him and Anila, the officer said. Anila was very angry because Rajendra had sold off property in Ludhiana that belonged to her without telling her. The fight spilled over into the next day. “Anila asked Rajendra to leave his second wife and live with her but he refused,” the officer said.

According to the children’s statement to the police, Rajendra was lying on his bed when Anila attacked him with a stick, hitting him several times on the head and leaving him semi-conscious. “Anila then fetched a container of petrol from the kitchen and poured it over him,” the children reportedly told the police. Anila apparently asked her children to leave the room.

“She then lit a matchstick and set Rajendra on fire,” the officer added.
Neighbours saw smoke coming out of the house and informed the police. It was they who took Rajendra to the hospital, but he was declared dead before admission. “He sustained 80 per cent burns,” the officer said.

The police suspect that Anila planned the murder. “There was no reason for Anila to keep petrol in the house,” senior police inspector Pradeep Bhosale of Ambernath police said.

Beaten to death

The other murder happened a few kilometres away in Ulhasnagar. Kavita Kalyani, 26, beat to death her 45-year-old husband, Kishan, at her maternal home; her brother and mother were also allegedly involved.

Police officials at Ulhasnagar’s Hill Line police station said that Kishan and his wife often quarrelled. On Friday night at around 11.30pm, Kishan went to his in-laws’ house in Camp No. 5 in Ulhasnagar to bring Kavita back to their home in Camp No. 4.

“Kishan was angry because it was late and the children had not yet eaten dinner because Kavita was not at home,” the investigating officer told DNA.

Kishan started yelling at Kavita for being a careless mother. “When Kavita did not pay attention to him, Kishan got angry and started assaulting her. Kavita’s brother, Laxman Vadvirya, intervened and started hitting Kishan,” the officer said. Kavita then grabbed a stick and repeatedly hit Kishan on the head with it, while her mother, Bharti, held him down, the officer added. Kishan collapsed and died almost immediately.

When Kishan did not return home, his friend Govinda Durgal went looking for him. “He came to know that Kavita, her brother and mother had killed Kishan. He immediately filed a complaint with the Hill Line police station,” the officer said.

The police are carrying out further investigations. All the people involved have been arrested and will be produced before the court on Sunday.


How about women harassed by women

Harassed by 'bahu': Saas kills herself
How many of them needs protection?

Is Mother-in-law not a women? Why can'nt government make laws to protect them too?

Ludhiana, May 18
Women committing suicide due to troublesome mothers-in-law is often heard, but an
aged woman of Urban Estate, Dugri, today jumped to death before a running train
allegedly due to harassment from daughter-in-law. The woman claimed in a suicide
note that she could not bear the harassment at the hands of her daughter-in-law and
her relatives any longer and hence was ending her life.
On the basis of the two-page suicide note, filled with heart rending tale of woes of
victim Dilip Gandhi, the Government Railway Police booked her daughter-in-law Sonia
Gandhi, Sonia’s mother Harinder Sethi and sister Chhina Walia for abetting Dilip to
commit suicide under sections 306, 34 of the IPC.
All accused live in Chandigarh. Sonia is the daughter of a retired Superintendent of
Police M.S. Sethi.
Interestingly, the main reason behind the dispute between the family members was
the immigration of Sonia’s husband Gursharan Singh Gandhi to Canada. Sonia and
other accused were allegedly vehemently against Gursharan’s move.
The victim says in the suicide note that Sonia and other accused allegedly opposed
Gursharan’s immigration to such an extent that he was forced to return to India after
spending a few weeks in Canada. He had managed to go abroad after a six-year wait.
Once back home, the in-laws forcibly took his passport and other documents away.
Additional SHO, GRP, Harbans Singh said the woman jumped before the Ludhiana-
Jakhal train around 5:30 am today. The police later recovered the suicide note, which
revealed her identity. He said no arrest had been made so far.
The suicide note revealed that the victim was quite religious. She began the note
offering prayers to Sikh gurus and tendering an apology for ending her life, given to
her by the almighty.
She wrote: “She had no other option as the harassment by the daughter-in-law and
other accused was driving them mad”. She said her son was married to Sonia 10
years ago. They had a daughter from the marriage. Her son managed immigration
after much effort but Sonia always opposed his decision.
When my son finally went to canada, she went to her parent’s house and threatened
to register a case of dowry against us. My son tried his best to cool down things. But he was threatened with such dire consequences that he returned home”.
She further claimed that her son went straight to his in-laws house in Chandigarh
where he was forced to part with the passport. Later, he took a Rs 9,000 per month
job with the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle.
This money was insufficient for the family and there was no compromise by the
accused. The accused then humiliated her in public by levelling cheap allegations,
which she could not bear and decided to end her life.


Seven-yr-old faces dowry charges

Seven-yr-old faces dowry charges

Sameer Kumar, Abhay Mohan Jha
Saturday, May 26, 2007 (Begusarai)
A seven-year-old has been charged in a dowry case in Bihar.

Santosh, a class four student has paid the price for a crime he did not commit.

''They framed me in a dowry case. I study in class 4. Police came to my house and asked for money. They threatened to send me to Munger otherwise,'' he said.

Santosh was named in a dowry harassment case last year along with his parents and his elder brother.

His parents and brother got bail after his father reached a compromise with the complainant. But given Santosh's tender age, the court didn't pass any specific bail order in his name.

Santosh's lawyer says there were serious lapses in the way the case was handled.

''The age of none of the accused has been mentioned in the entire case diary,'' said Vijay Maharaj.

Police admit they made a mistake but say the witnesses in the case had a role to play.

''None of the witnesses mentioned that the accused is under age. I agree that we have made a mistake in this case,'' said Amit Lodha, SP, Begusarai.

Police say Santosh can breathe easy irrespective of the outcome of the case. But this comes as cold comfort for someone who has learnt a bitter lesson so early in life.

When would the government spring into action. After how long and after how many lives? Snatching the basic rights in the name of women empowerment?

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