Wedding anniversaries are supposed to be happy occasions, but unfortunately, this was not the case with 28-year-old Manpreet Kaur, who was thrown out of her in-laws' house in Ibben Kalan village on the outskirts of the city.
She was sent packing by her husband Baljit Singh on the eve of her third marriage anniversary late on Thursday night. The reason: she had lost the divorce case filed by her husband.
The order of a local court said, "I pass an ex-parte decree of divorce on the ground of cruelty by dissolving the marriage of the parties from the date of decree."
Holding the court verdict in her hand, a shocked Manpreet, with tears rolling down her cheeks, said, "After they threw me out, I stayed in the house of a family in the village, who have been very helpful to me."
If everything had gone well, she would have been celebrating her third marriage anniversary with her husband on Friday instead of narrating her tragic story of the last three years in which a former Akali minister played spoilsport instead of bringing about a compromise. The marriage was never a happy one with the issue of dowry cropping up and then a compromise being reached, and, then again, the husband and wife moving apart.
"I decided not to file a divorce case and also decided that I would live in the house of my in-laws. My husband used to come and go and, along with his mother, would often hurl insults at me and my parents," Manpreet told the media.
Theft case slapped
A theft case was slapped on Manpreet in June last year. The case was registered at the Chhatiwind police station in which Manpreet was accused by her in-laws of having stolen a motorcycle, some gold ornaments and Rs. 7,000 in cash. The other co-accused in the case were her father and mother and two brothers.
"Imagine, I am accused of stealing from my own home. The motorcycle was the one which my parents had given in dowry," she claimed, alleging that the vehicle was taken away from the house by the police.
However, with the help of revenue and PR minister Bikram Singh Majithia, an inquiry was conducted and orders were given for quashing of the FIR. However, the orders were later reversed by the Attari DSP and the case still stands, though Manpreet and her parents and brothers have obtained pre-arrest bail.
Role of former minister
Manpreet has accused former minister and Akali MLA from Attari, Gulzar Singh Ranike, of helping her in-laws in the case. She alleged that the cops, under pressure from Ranike, did not withdraw the theft case. She claimed that a cousin of her (former) husband was close to Ranike and one of his personal assistants.
"Some police officers admitted before me that they wanted to help me but could not due to Ranike. I even approached the MLA thrice and in the last meeting on January 13, Ranike advised me to agree to divorce and then he would get the matter sorted out," claimed Manpreet.
Ranike denies allegations
Ranike denied having instructed the police not to withdraw the theft case against Manpreet. "Why should I interfere in the family or personal affairs of others? Yes, the woman came to me and I gave her some advice. I told her to sit down with her husband and resolve all issues and lead a happy life. I explained to her the religious sanctity of marriage and gave no other suggestion," claimed Ranike.
She was involved in theft, says SSP
Amritsar rural SSP PS Virk justified the theft case registered against Manpreet and her parents. "Yes, she was involved in the theft. The police did not take away the motorcycle from her house. I do not work under any political pressure," he said.
Asked whether a person could be accused of stealing from her own house, Virk said, "Eh te vakilan wali gal eh (Such a plea is made by lawyers)."