Chief of shelter for runaway lovers in India arrested, Latest World News - The New Paper

Chief of shelter for runaway lovers in India arrested

This article is more than 12 months old

NEW DELHI: The head of Love Commandos, an organisation that offers shelter to runaway lovers, has been arrested in Delhi for extortion and abuse of desperate couples, officials said yesterday.

The group became well known for providing safe houses and legal advice to couples who defied family, religious and caste pressures to get married in the conservative country.

Love Commandos founder Sanjoy Sachdev was arrested on Tuesday after police raided one of the shelter homes with members from the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) and freed four couples.

"It was observed (Sachdev) was indulging in illegal confinement and extortion of the couples behind the facade of providing a safe home to the victims," DCW, an official body, said in a statement.

The four couples found during the raid said they were forced to pay arbitrary sums as fees and threatened if they tried to leave, the statement added.

Former journalist Sachdev launched Love Commandos in 2010 after coming to the aid of a young man falsely accused of rape by the family of the woman he wanted to marry.

Most marriages in India are arranged by families, and couples who defy the tradition to marry outside caste and religion face a severe backlash.

There have been cases of so-called "honour killings" by relatives to protect the family's reputation.

"Couples facing the threat of honour killing in our nation undergo immense trauma," DCW chief Swati Maliwal said.

"For an NGO to extort from and abuse these vulnerable youngsters in the name of helping them is extremely shameful and tragic." - AFP