As time passed, Satwinder’s husband began fabricating excuses to distance himself from her and divest her of properties. However, driven by an indomitable spirit, she refused to succumb to despair. Tenaciously fighting for her rights, Satwinder filed a case against her husband, exposing his actions. The legal battle stretched over several years, testing her resilience and fortitude.
“I was emotionally blackmailed by my husband after he returned from Ukraine with the aim of evicting me from his house,” Satwinder said. “On his insistence, we moved to a rented house with all my belongings. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see through his tactics and blindly accepted his decisions.”
After evicting her from his house by deceit, he went back to Ukraine never to return. But in a remarkable turn of events last year, after enduring a long and arduous journey, Satwinder and her husband reached a mutual understanding, leading to their divorce. This resolution marked a significant milestone in her pursuit of justice and closure.
“I am divorcee; my life has been spoiled,” Satwinder said. “Of the 41 years since my birth, 14 were lost in pursuit of justice.”
Satwinder’s personal triumph has ignited a fire within her to extend a hand to others like Devinder Singh and Jaspal Kaur. Satwinder runs a nongovernmental organization known as Abh Nahi (or “Not Anymore”) dedicated to counsel those whose spouses abandoned them after settling abroad. So far, it has received a staggering 900 complaints, including those from 800 women.
Punjab’s Diaspora: A Tale of Dreams and Heartbreaks
Embarking on the journey of a lifetime, thousands from Punjab venture abroad each year, driven by aspirations of a better life and brighter prospects. A significant number make foreign lands their new home, scripting success stories that warm the heart.
Yet, amid this tale of dreams fulfilled lies a heartrending reality that casts a shadow over the euphoria. A poignant trend emerges, where some men, having utilized dowry money for their foreign ventures, choose not to return to their homeland, leaving behind devastated wives and families.
The anguish of abandonment weighs heavy, shattering dreams of togetherness and leaving families grappling with emotional and financial upheaval.
There are an alarming 30,000 cases of abandoned families in Punjab that reveal the gravity of the issue. The nonresident Indian wing of the Punjab police handles an array of cases — ranging from fraud and property disputes to matrimonial conflicts. Distressingly, the numbers surged to 4,266 cases in 2019 and 3,829 cases in 2020, laying bare the magnitude of the crisis.
Love, deceit and the battle for a daughter’s identity: Sarabjeet’s 13-year struggle
From the quaint district of Mukeria in Punjab, Sarabjeet Kaur’s life took a fateful turn when she married Deler Singh in 2007. A tale of promises and dreams, their union seemed blissful, but fate had something far more intricate in store.
Sarabjeet, an ambitious young woman who had passed her exams, wed Deler Singh, a younger man. Their love blossomed, and they were blessed with a beautiful daughter two years into their marriage. However, in 2010, Deler Singh, an electrician, was driven by the allure of opportunities abroad. He decided to set foot on foreign soil, hoping to carve a prosperous future for his family.
In a bid to support her husband’s dreams, Sarabjeet sold her jewelry and borrowed money from her family to fund Deler Singh’s journey overseas. Despite the distance, they remained in touch until 2015, speaking often over the phone. However, cracks started appearing when Deler Singh fabricated a deceitful story to escape his marriage with Sarabjeet. He sought a divorce, claiming a contract marriage in Canada to secure permanent residency and promising to reunite once his status was settled. Sensing the plot, Sarabjeet refused to be swayed, triggering a rupture in their communication.
“In 2018, I complained to the police against my husband and in-laws. But my in-laws hit back a counter case blaming me of (poor) character,” Sarabjeet said. “My husband filed a case against me charging me of burglary and claiming that I was not his wife.”
As the years passed, Sarabjeet discovered the painful truth: Deler Singh had married a Pakistani woman in Canada. To attain permanent residency, he allegedly forged documents and faked divorce papers, leaving Sarabjeet shattered and their daughter’s identity stolen.
“I called his second wife after finding her details on social media and told her that he was already married with a daughter, but she did not listen.” Sarabjeet said. “She told me that he had told her that I was their domestic help and not so beautiful and he was forcibly married to me by his family.”
For 13 years, Sarabjeet has fought an arduous battle — not just for herself, but for her 12-year-old daughter, who yearns for a father she has never seen and who has never acknowledged her existence.