The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dowry spectator slur on Arjun
Arjun: ‘Sidelined’

July 30: Uttar Pradesh police have lodged a case of dowry-related harassment against Union minister Arjun Singh and seven members of his family following a complaint from his grandson’s wife.

Priyanka, the wife of the human resource development minister’s grandson Abhijeet Singh, has alleged that her in-laws harassed and “tortured” her for dowry.

Keeping in mind the sensitive nature of the case and the ruling BSP’s good rapport with the Congress, the state government is expected to recommend a CBI investigation. Such a move will effectively put the ball in the Centre’s court.

“The complaint, made on Priyanka’s behalf by her father Madhvendra Singh, accuses the minister’s family of beating her after she refused to ask her family for dowry. The complaint says she was tortured,” Moradabad SSP Prem Prakash said.

Arjun’s wife Saroj, daughter Beena, son Abhimanyu and his wife Aradhana, Abhimanyu’s son and Priyanka’s husband Abhijeet, Saroj’s brother Dilip, and Dilip’s daughter Mandakini are the other accused.

The dowry demands, says the complaint, included a Mercedes and a flat in Noida. Around Rs 6 lakh in cash was also sought.

Priyanka’s family is based in Moradabad, while her in-laws, Abhimanyu and Aradhana, live in Bangalore. “Priyanka has claimed she can medically prove she was beaten,” Prakash said. The complaint said the minister “would remain a silent bystander to the torture”.

The dowry prohibition act, under which the complaint has been registered, makes a distinction between “taking” and “seeking” dowry. Abetment, which Arjun is most likely to be charged with, is an offence only if dowry is taken or “given” and carries a maximum punishment of five years in jail.

The case against Arjun may be weak, but the complaint itself has sparked speculation of vendetta.

Arjun, who did not attend Priyanka and Abhijeet’s wedding, told reporters today that his advice was ignored. “I have nothing to do with it (the alleged harassment). My opinion at the wedding was sidelined,” he said.

Abhimanyu claimed his son had filed for divorce on April 2, and the harassment charge was “a retaliatory act”.

Sources indicated that differences within the family have been brewing for some time. The minister is known to have differences with several cabinet colleagues as well, particularly over education quota.

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