Balwant Garg, Tribune News Service
Faridkot, June 6. In times when honour killings are on a rise, a joint plan by the Centre and the state government to encourage inter-caste marriages in Punjab has run into rough weather.
Under the plan, a couple (with one partner a Scheduled Caste) opting for an inter-caste marriage is given a gift of Rs 50,000 by the Welfare Department for SCs and BCs with half of the sum coming from the Centre. The aim is to help the couple in distress.
But in the past four years, because of Punjab’s precarious fiscal condition, no “gift money” has been awarded to these couples. With the state government unable to contribute towards the “gift money”, a list of 552 eligible couples is pending with the state’s Welfare Department .
Many more such cases are awaiting scrutiny. In the absence of funds, the authorities are going slow on the matter. H S Nanda, Director, and Anjana Sadhu, Deputy Director, Welfare Department for SCs and STs, Punjab, declined to comment on the pending cases. Baldev Singh, a Kamboj Sikh of Naseerewala village in Dharamkot, who married an SC girl against the wishes of his family three years back, is among those awaiting the “gift money”.
Varinder Singh, an SC from Malout who had approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court in May, 2010, for police protection after he married an Arora girl, is yet to get any benefit. Hoshiarpur district leads in the number of inter-caste marriages in the state in the past three years (35) followed by Jalandhar (27), Amritsar (21), Ludhiana (18), Bathinda and Faridkot (13 each), Mansa (10), Muktsar (6) and Ferozepur (5).
Inter-Caste marriages since 2009
Hoshiarpur district 35 – Jalandhar district 27 – Amritsar district 21 – Ludhiana district 18 – Bathinda district 13 – Faridkot district 13 – Mansa district 10 – Muktsar district 6 – Ferozepur district 5