Varun Kapoor, IPS
Additional Director General of Police, Narcotics and PRTS, Indore
Marriage in India is also a big business. There are numerous types of marriages too. Marriage in India is considered a sacred duty of the entire family as soon as an offspring reaches the age that they consider as “marriageable”. Thus the parents are forever on the hunt for a suitable bride or a groom for their respective offspring’s. Not only the parents it is often the entire clan that may be on a hunt. This hunt involves all means – newspaper ads, individual searches, speaking to acquaintances, community feats & meetings, community introduction conferences etc. The list is endless.
In today’s digital world a new way of finding a suitable match has emerged and that is the electronic way. To make it more explicit – it is the use of marriage sites. A number of such sites have sprung up in quick time. The aim is the same – to provide cheap, easy and quick ways to find suitable matches for ones offspring’s. The business of electronic match making has become real big business. Some of these sites and portals are real behemoths with turnovers running into Crores of Rupees. A key player like shaadi.com has a reputed turnover of over 300 crores. Another market leader jeevansathi.com has over 6.1 million registered members and has 230 employees working in 54 offices across 37 cities in the country. Innumerable other platforms like lifepartner.in, simplymarry.com, mymarriage.com etc are there to settle issues for prospective brides and grooms. The total online matrimonial business will jump to a colossal 1500 Crores by 2017 as estimated by ASSOCHAM.
But big business also brings big troubles and if these are not attended properly they lead to big misery for the individual concerned. There is a spike in cyber crimes related to individuals who are using such sites. It is reported in Bengaluru that online matrimonial cheating cases top the cyber crime charts in the IT capital of India. Such cases account for nearly 40% of all cases reported in the cyber police stations. Scamsters are duping innocent girls of lakhs of rupees by enticing them with fraudulent offers of marriage. The victims are women primarily in the 35-50 age group, looking for a possible marriage match online. There are instances of women transferring anywhere from Rs. 2 lakh to over Rs. 20 lakh after being ‘hooked’ to scamsters who pose as doctors, engineers and even scientists based in Europe.
A particularly disturbing case was reported from Bhopal where a young girl of 23 years was enticed and exploited by a cyber criminal using her Jeevansathi.com profile (which was made by her father). Through this site she met a boy from the state of Uttarakhand. She herself was an employee of the leading IT firm Hewett Packard at Bangalore. They soon started chatting and became friends. The friendship reached the doorstep of marriage. That is when all hell broke loose. The boy always was over demanding and on top of it he was ultra suspicious of the girl, her activities and her friends & family. He would press her to speak to her over 20 times a day and on weekends would force her to not go out anywhere and meet with anyone. He told her to break all relations and made her delete her Facebook account and compelled her to stop using her WhatsApp account too. All this was aggressive behavior due to a severe trust deficit.
But this offence didn’t stop here – it soon developed into blackmail and threats. The mislead girl had been enticed by the boy to visit her at Uttarakhand and meet him. This she did and this was another nail in the coffin. He clicked some photographs and started blackmailing her. When she wanted to break the relation he started sending her photos to all her friends, office mates, contacts and even family members & parents. This was to discredit her totally in the eyes of her near and dear one’s and also to malign her image so that she buckles under these pressure tactics and return’s to him and the abusive relationship. She became so stressed and depressed that she left her job in Bangalore and moved back to Bhopal and even left her preparation for her MBA exams. She alleges that even her father started harboring suspicions about her behavior as a result of all the lies being bombarded by the abusive boy.
The poor girl has her entire life ruined and all due to an innocuous profile being created by her father on a leading matrimonial site of the country. She really does not know where to go and whom to approach. This is a pattern of crime which is being often repeated be it matrimonial sites or other dating sites. As a result those who become members of such sites do have to be very wary of how they conduct themselves and the relations that develop on such sites.
It is advisable that all those becoming members of such platforms should strictly use the platform for the purpose for which they have registered. In case of a matrimonial site, the person should strictly stick to developing a matrimonial proposal and not become embroiled in a permanent relation (which may or may not lead to matrimony). Secondly in matrimonial sites no premature contact offline should be indulged in, especially in case the relation is unlikely to develop into a matrimonial alliance. Thirdly, no financial transactions should be entertained in any event in such contact on matrimonial sites. These precautions are a must for all those who become members of matrimonial sites – so that their dream of matrimony does not rapidly transform itself into a nightmare!