These days, ‘staging’ weddings has become common in Punjab and Chandigarh. Also, the most important part of the exercise is filming the wedding and clicking photographs. After all, the ‘staged’ wedding is a way for the ‘bride’ or the ‘groom’ to clear Canadian immigration.
Investigations last week by the Immigration department of Canada has revealed that special agencies are organising photo and video shoots of wedding ceremonies, exactly like ones in films or television serials. The footage is then used to clear immigration formalities.
The ‘staged’ weddings are complete with actors and junior artistes posing as guests, even flashing perfect smiles for the photos.
“In the recent past, we have found many such cases. Once they reach Canada, the couple separates,” told Jason Kenney, Federal Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism to Hindustan Times.
The fake ceremony features paid junior artistes who perform the roles of guests and the priest. Family members are the only ‘real’ characters. One of the persons getting ‘married’ has a valid residency or citizenship of the country.
Kenney said it is almost impossible to detect the fraud in these photographs shot in elaborate and detailed set-ups. “Then we learnt that special agencies are organising them and charging handsomely for the same. Also, the person with the resident permit or citizenship is paid for his or her services,” he added.
Kenney said the department has urged state authorities to intervene in Punjab and Chandigarh since the practice is particularly rampant there.
When contacted by HT, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s office replied saying a special police unit will be set up to weed out these agencies and action will be taken against them.
Kenney described the fake marriages as a big challenge to his department.