Bathinda, (Punjab) February 3: This case has come to surface like a bolt from the blue and shocked the hell out of anyone with any sense of dignity. Despite the fact that the duo of sister and brother got married for a scam and not for any other reason, the very idea sends shivers down one’s spine with stench blocking your nostrils.

Although this is a first case from India, a similar and a little more sinister case has already been reported in Pakistan. In a documented first case, two Pakistani duos of two brothers and two sisters from Jhelum were in the spotlight back in October 2014 when it emerged that they had married to emigrate to Canada for better future and greener pastures. According to a Geo (Pak) TV report of 25 October 2014, their cases came to light after the first set of brother and sister had been able to succeed, to settle in Canada but the second duo’s fake documents were picked up by the Pakistani authorities.

There may have been cases like that but went un-earthed and no one knows about them.

And now, a case – closer to home – involving a Punjabi duo of brother and sister has come to light – who, Punjab police say, got married in a Gurudwara and then went on to successfully register their marriage in the registrar’s office and travelled to Australia as husband and wife. If the reports are correct, the duo actually managed to get permanent residency to stay in Australia indefinitely.

The case has generated some of the most reprehensible headlines:

SHOCKING: Brother and sister marry each other in Punjab to con their way into Australia
and immigration authorities are powerless to stop them

Marry-your-sister visa racket exposed

Only a couple of months ago, an alleged Sydney kingpin of sham marriages, an Australian Indian was arrested who had allegedly organized 164 marriages for Visa.

According to Immigration department documents more than 1500 foreigners visiting Australia have had their foreign visas rejected in the past four years. The number of such marriages and their detection seems to be rising at an alarming pace as 668 such rejections took place in the year 2017-18 alone.

This present case has come to light after the cousin complained to the local police which immediately swung into action and registered a case against the family. In the official complaint lodge with the police, at least six members of the family, including the mother, father, son, and daughter have been named.

Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi has told radio station FLOW FM the visa rorts have to stop.

The Conservative Party has long called for urgent reform of the visa system with rorts and scams abounding.

Punjab police has been informed that duo had forged a bank account, a passport and other documents in her name (complainant cousin’s name) and used them for getting an Australian spouse visa.

“According to our investigation, we have come to know so far that the brother was already a permanent resident of Australia and documents were forged to give his sister the identity of their cousin and they first got a marriage certificate from a local registrar’s office,” a police statement said.

The siblings managed to convince a sub-registrar’s office register their marriage. Using fake documents and passports, the pair travelled to Australia as husband and wife and were also granted a spousal visa.

The alleged forgery and the marriage registration reportedly took place in 2012.

BT believes the complainant cousin is closely related to the accused family. She used to live with them when the family forged her identity documents.

According to a Punjab police spokesperson although the investigation is on-going, they have been able to establish most of the facts.

While the brother-sister duo is living in Australia, their family members, including parents, brother and maternal grandmother are on the run. They all have been named in the FIR.

BT is in contact with local Punjab police but believes, they do not know the whereabouts of these absconding family members.

The Department of Home Affairs told The Australian newspaper which broke the original story, that all identity documents of spouse visa applicants are thoroughly checked and verified with relevant authorities of the issuing country, where required.

“But the department has no control over genuine passports issued by the foreign government which may have been issued based on fraudulent documents.”

“They have cheated the social system, legal system and religious systems, all for the craze, wish and desire to go abroad. We are conducting raids but they are on the run and we have not been able to arrest anyone,” an Inspector of Punjab Police told The Australian.

Fake marriages for migrating overseas among strangers or even close relatives have been happening for quite some time, but for an brother-sister marriage in India, this is a first.                                                                                                                                –Shalini Singh


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