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Haven for Punjab’s runaway couples set to change

Marriages are made in Chandigarh. At least 25 runaway couples flock to the city daily to get married, reports Shailee Dogra.

chandigarh Updated: Apr 03, 2010 00:10 IST
Shailee Dogra
Shailee Dogra
Hindustan Times

Marriages are made in Chandigarh. At least 25 runaway couples flock to the city daily to get married.

Many of them come from Nawashar in Punjab, rural Haryana and even Jammu, escaping families and local community councils that are often against their union. The Punjab and Haryana High Court offers them protection and their marriages are solemnised in various temples and gurdwaras across the city.

But this might change, with the high court on Wednesday authorising local judges to provide protection to the couples.

Until now, the trend has translated into big money for the legal community, especially district court lawyers who file protection petitions and help in the marriage registration process.

“Most of the couples come here out of fear of family and society. We help them with the marriage registration process after verifying the certificates issued by temples and gurdwaras. We also move protection petitions,” said lawyer Rajeev Duggal.

Now, some lawyers believe that Wednesday’s ruling will mean these couples will receive protection from local courts and see
no need to come to Chandigarh.

But others say it won’t change much. Couples from rural Haryana — especially those dominated by khap panchayats that can go to the extent of ordering the execution of such couples — would still find it more prudent to come to the state capital.

Indeed, despite receiving protection, many couples never return to their villages, fearing for their lives.

“I was married in September last year and had even got protection orders. But we have not returned to the village fearing a threat to life,” said Deepak, a carpenter who now lives in Chandigarh.

First Published: Apr 03, 2010 00:08 IST