Bride vows to end groom’s marriage run

Bride vows to end groom’s marriage runAmrita DhaliwalTribune News Service
Lavkeri village (Karnal), October 18Thirteen proved unlucky for a 72-year-old man, Ramdhari, after his “13th” wife, Harbans Kaur (45), decided to stand up for herself when she learned about her husband’s past.
Harbans Kaur, who has vowed to bring Ramdhari to book, also alleges police inaction.
For Harbans Kaur, an uneducated widow with five children, marrying Ramdhari seemed like a good idea. “He promised to adopt my children and look after them,” said Harbans Kaur, who hails from Subri village, near Karnal.
Ramdhari took her to court in January and allegedly told her to put her thumbprint on a few pieces of paper, which she did, and told her they were married.
“He brought me home. I got pregnant and was just beginning to settle in when our neighbours told me that Ramdhari had many ‘wives’. They told me that my husband would suddenly bring a woman to the village; she would stay for a few months; and disappear till a new one arrived,” she said.
“My world crumbled. Every time I asked my husband about his previous marriages, he fought with me. He stopped giving me money to run the household and turned violent. The neighbours had to step in to protect me,” she said.
Ramdhari has been on the run for a month now. Two weeks ago, Harbans suffered a miscarriage after seven months of pregnancy.
Alleging police inaction, she said she went to the Indri police station to complain against Ramdhari but SHO Manvir Singh made her sign a “false” complaint.
In her complaint on October 9, Harbans alleged that Ramdhari had thrown her out of the house — when she was four months pregnant — and tried to misbehave with her daughter. The plaint further read Ramdhari had tried to kill her.
“I narrated my tale and a policeman typed out the complaint. I put my thumb impression on it. They are taking advantage of my illiteracy to settle a score,” she alleged.
She alleged that she had tried to lodge a complaint earlier when Angrez Singh was the SHO — before the present incumbent Manvir Singh replaced him — but Ramdhari bribed him to hush up the matter.
“I have complained at the Indri police station on numerous occasions before. They took my thumb impression on a complaint that was false. The SHO refuses to listen to me. Why is the police hushing up the issue?”
SHO Manvir Singh denied receiving any complaint from Harbans Kaur. He appeared alarmed on learning about Ramdhari’s 13 marriages but said he could only look into the matter if a complaint was filed.
Meanwhile, in Lavkeri, villagers, both men and women, are rallying behind Harbans. “Ramdhari has brought a bad name to our village. We will help Harbans and make sure he doesn’t ruin more lives,” said irate villagers.
They said Ramdhari first married in 1960, then in 1964 and then they stopped counting.
The villagers claimed that he had no children from any of his “wives”. “Ramdhari always brought in women who needed support and had children, women who had nowhere else to go to. And none of them was in the village for more than a few months,” said one of them.
None of the villagers was prepared to answer as to why they didn’t take action before Harbans stood up for her rights.
However, a villager in a muffled voice alleged that Ramdhari used to sell his “wives”, some of whom came from Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and parts of Haryana.
According to Raj Singh Chaudhary, Co-ordinator, Shakti Vahini, Haryana, it was a matter that needed to be investigated.
“I don’t know whether he married these women or not. No marriage ceremony or ritual took place in the village. He would all of a sudden appear with a woman,” said Sukhdarshan, former sarpanch of the village.

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