New Delhi: A senior Indian cabinet minister and veteran leader of the ruling Congress party has been accused of breaking the law by demanding a dowry payment from his grandson’s wife, police said on Monday.
Arjun Singh, the minister for human resource development, has denied any wrongdoing and has vowed to defend himself in court.
Police in Moradabad town, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, said they had registered a case against Singh under India’s stringent anti-dowry laws after a complaint by the bride’s family. “It is a case of dowry harassment,” senior police officer Prem Prakash told the Times Now television news channel.
“There were demands for a Mercedes car and a flat. There was talk of Rs 5.5-6 million ($135,000-$150,000) as dowry during the wedding,” he said.
The minister told the NDTV news channel that he was not involved.
“This has cropped up suddenly,” he said. “There could be a problem but I don’t know about it. I have nothing to do with it. ... I will do whatever it takes to defend myself.”
The practice of demanding and giving dowry during weddings is banned but still prevalent among many Indian families.
The most common reported form of domestic violence in India is dowry-related, where women are abused and beaten and even killed by their in-laws for not bestowing enough gifts or money to their husbands or their families at the time of marriage.
Singh is one of the most senior leaders of the Congress party. He has held several ministerial portfolios in the past including the home (interior) ministry. In the early 1990s, Singh was also a contender for the prime minister’s post. ($1=40.46 Indian Rupee)