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'Mostly from Australia and Canada’: India suspends passports of 60 NRIs

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The Indian authorities have suspended the passports of many NRIs living in Australia and Canada who are facing allegations of abandoning their wives in India.

Indian authorities have suspended the passports of 60 Non-resident Indians accused of abandoning their wives in India. 

Sibash Kabiraj, the Regional Passport Officer at Chandigarh has told SBS Punjabi that most of the NRIs whose Indian passports have been suspended are based in Australia and Canada.

“This effectively means that those passports are not valid now and that makes all the visas linked to those passports invalid too,” Mr Kabiraj said.

Though the government of India is not seeking their deportation, Mr Kabiraj said the Australian authorities have been informed about the status of the affected NRIs’ passports.

“It’s up to the Australian authorities to act now that they know these people are illegally in their country,” Mr Kabiraj told SBS Punjabi.

Punjab is said to be home to tens of thousands ‘abandoned wives’ – a term commonly used for women married to Indian men who left them soon after their marriage without a legal divorce.

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30-year-old Savidha is from the neighbouring state of Haryana. She told SBS Punjabi that her husband returned to Australia two months after their marriage in 2013 and hasn’t returned to India since then.

“Ours was an arranged marriage. My parents spent total Rs. 3,000,000 ($60,000) on my marriage, including some cash paid to my husband’s family. While he [her husband] was still there, they started asking for more money,” Savidha told SBS Punjabi.

At the time of their marriage, Savidha’s husband was on a student visa in Australia and worked as a restaurant manager in Melbourne.

She said she stayed with her husband’s parents in Ambala city for three years before they threw her out.

“They abused and harassed me, but I was determined to have my right. But last year they just threw me out and I had to move to my parent’s house,” she said.

Mr Kabiraj says his office has a dedicated helpline for women like Savidha.

“We receive calls every day and we act on those where there’s evidence – such as a court order or non-compliance with the summons of a court,” he said.

The Indian government has intensified its effort against truant NRIs in the recent months with a push from the central ministry for the welfare of women in the country.

Mr Kbiraj says the men whose passports have been cancelled can’t travel on their passports.

“They can only come to Indian, that too after obtaining emergency certificates from the Indian government’s missions,” he told SBS Punjabi.

“We have taken action against 60, there are about a hundred more in the pipeline.”

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