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Last Updated: Friday, 30 January, 2004, 16:34 GMT
Grooms accuse 'visa-for-vows' bride
By Adam Mynott
BBC South Asia correspondent

A British woman detained in India is accused of defrauding a string of husbands and fiancÚs.

Jaswinder with Harpal on their wedding day
Jaswinder weds - but ex-partners now want their money back

Police in India's Punjab state allege that Jaswinder Kaur has married twice and become engaged on two other occasions, promising to get her suitors visas to emigrate to the United Kingdom.

She is alleged to have demanded large sums of money from the four men, as well as several others, extracting over $60,000 in all.

Ms Kaur, who is from Glasgow and yet to be formally charged, denies the allegations.

She admits to marrying two men, Harbans Lal, whom she married in Germany, and Harpal Singh, whom she married last year in Punjab, but, she says, after she divorced Harbans.

I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her and she said we would go to Britain
Harpal Singh

The police say there was no legal divorce.

Two other men, Surjeet Singh and Sukhdev Singh, claim they got engaged to be married to her on consecutive days in November last year.

Both say they have the photographs and engagement videos to prove it.

Cash down

About a dozen men turned up at a court in Punjab earlier this week where a judge ordered Jaswinder Kaur be kept in custody until 8 February.

All claim she took hundreds of thousands of rupees from them - saying the cash was a down payment on visa applications to the UK.

Angry grooms
Angry men: The 'grooms' protest outside court

Harpal Singh says he gave her nearly 600,000 rupees ($13,200) and incurred huge debt in the process.

Six hundred thousand rupees is the equivalent of several years' income in Punjab.

He claims he became so desperate after she defrauded him that he came close to committing suicide.

"I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her and she said we would go to Britain," he says.

"But she lied."

Jaswinder Kaur admits taking some money and has said she will repay what she has been given.

Immigration agency in Punjab
Emigration to the West is big business and an obsession for many Punjabis
But she says lots of the allegations against her are nonsense and she says many of the names of men who are claiming she got engaged to she has never even heard of.

"A lot can be done with digital photos and a computer," she says.

"My first ex-husband wants money even after a divorce," she says.

She says that a string of men like Surjeet Singh who say they got engaged to her are lying.

But he says he has the photos and video to prove that they held an engagement ceremony last year.

Ticket to the West

The men say Jaswinder demanded large sums of money to pay for their visa applications to the UK. Many were apparently taken in.

Emigration to the West is big business and an obsession for many Punjabis.

Jaswinder behind bars
Jaswinder is led away in a police van

Marriage to a British passport-holder is seen as a sure-fire exit visa, and this is what Jaswinder Kaur is alleged to have cashed in on.

She would apparently turn up at wedding ceremonies and receptions all over Punjab on the lookout for prospective bridegrooms.

A number of Jaswinder Kaur's relatives in India have also been arrested.

All say they are innocent.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Adam Mynott
"The Punjabi runaway bride is behind bars"



SEE ALSO:
Bollywood 'pen-pal' cheats US man
09 Oct 03  |  South Asia
British husbands desert Indian brides
23 Sep 02  |  South Asia
Dowry demand lands groom in jail
14 May 03  |  South Asia
'Bogus brides' charged in US
10 Jul 03  |  Americas
TV marriage - Pakistani style
29 Aug 03  |  South Asia


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