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Premarital probe: Detectives make big bucks in India

Last updated on: April 2, 2010 15:05 IST

Premarital probe: Detectives make big bucks in India

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Manu A B in Mumbai

Siddhi was all set to get married to her 'ideal' man, whom she knew for three years. It ultimately turned out that he had already someone married two years ago but had still continued the relationship with her.

In another instance, the parents found a handsome boy with a good job for their daughter. But days before the marriage, the girl got a whiff of something being wrong. Finally, it was found that he was undergoing treatment for a serious health problem.

Playing the role of saviours in their cases are detective agencies, who regard this as good business and also social service. Premarital investigations have turned out to be a lucrative business with increasing instances of people trying to cover up many personal, family and official details.

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Image: Look before you leap!
Photographs: Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh
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There are hundreds of cases of forgery and blatant cheating in the booming matrimony market. These detective agencies work to unearth every detail about the prospective groom/bride.

With a boom in online matrimony sites, many alliances are born in cyber space. Prospective brides and grooms spend hours on the net chatting with each other and meeting once or twice before marriage, but knowing hardly anything about the each other or their families' background.

This trend has led to many unfortunate cases of break-up within months of marriage. So it's not surprising that there has been a rise in the number of pre- and post-marital investigations.

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Image: Many cases of break-up within months of marriage.
Photographs: Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh
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Premarital probe: Detectives make big bucks in India

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Most of the requests come from middle class families. Detective agencies say that from 2-3 enquires in a week about 5 years ago, nowadays there are 2-3 enquires every day.

"We get 30 per cent of our revenues from the premarital investigation business. We expect this business to grow further," says Rahul Rai Gupta, CEO of Secret Watch Detectives, who started the agency in 1999.

A typical premarital investigation includes character verification, verification of social reputation, employment status, vices, addictions, violence/medical/education history, past broken/unbroken marriages, social/financial status and reputation of the family or any other specify investigation required by the customers.

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Image: Premarital investigation includes character verification.
Photographs: Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh
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Premarital probe: Detectives make big bucks in India

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According to Topsgrup Risk Intelligence Private Ltd (TRIPL), about 80 per cent of the general investigation cases are for premarital investigations.

"The booming Internet matrimony business has led to the investigation business in India growing at the rate of over 30 per cent annually, set to cross Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) turnover soon," says Nilendu Mitra, senior vice president (marketing and communication), Topsgrup.

Topsgrup is developing an exclusive premarital investigation portal and are in talks with some leading online marriage portals.

With the increase in the number of marriage related fraud cases, parents now consider this as a part of the wedding package.

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Image: Premarital investigations rise.
Photographs: Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh
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Premarital probe: Detectives make big bucks in India

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"Anyone who is getting married must spend on a background check. It is better to verify facts before marriage to be on the safe side," says Bhawana Paliwal, co-founder of Tejas Detective Agency.

She recounts many instances where the girls were unaware of the prospective groom's past relationships, medical history, salary, job, et cetera.

"About 10-20 per cent of the premarital investigation cases turn negative, highlighting the need for parents to keep an extra vigil in terms of premarital investigations while 60 per cent cases turn negative in terms of post-marital queries," says Bhawana Paliwal.

The cost of the investigation varies from person to person and depending on which place the investigation is to be carried out. Agencies charge from Rs 15,000 to 30,000 for a premarital investigation.

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Image: Background check, a must.
Photographs: Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh
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The price should not be a deterrent advises Paliwal who says, "When you splurge so much on a wedding, the cost of an investigation is hardly a big expense. In fact, it is the most important thing to do especially when it is an arranged marriage."

A typical investigation usually takes 7-10 days. Although premarital investigations are easier compared to post-marital ones, the agencies have to make sure that the people involved do not get any whiff of the investigation. So it must be done discreetly and at the same time reveal everything about the person.

"We make sure that the process is managed with utmost discretion and with sensitivity without causing discomfort to any of the parties involved as your own future and safety is paramount," says Nilendu Mitra.

While this is a risky and difficult profession, detectives are happy that this business helps people begin their marital life peacefully!


Image: All's well that ends well.
Photographs: Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh
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