Snoop troop

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NRI parents down under are now turning to detectives in India to spy on potential brides and grooms in the marriage market

 

Tucked away on the second floor of a five-storey-block amid a maze of buildings and narrow lanes in Bhikaji Cama Place, New Delhi, sits an office with tinted windows.

Visitors get the utmost discretion. And with good reason, as most people coming here are snooping on their nearest and dearest.

Ascon Detectives Network has been in the business of matrimonial investigations for well over a decade, as one of India’s oldest detective agencies with operations across the country.

Fathers want to know if their daughter’s fiancé really works in that flashy office job, mothers want to know if their son’s girlfriend is good marriage material, wives want to know if their husbands are faithful and so on and so on.

Having spent the past 15 years delving into people’s personal lives, Ascon founding Director Sanjay Kapoor says their business is busier than ever—and it’s not just local Indians turning to detectives but a rising number of NRIs, including many from Australia.

“The marriage investigations are increasing day-by-day. Not only for NRIs, all over India they are increasing,” says Kapoor.

In most cases families will investigate a groom or bride before a marriage to ensure nothing untoward is lurking in their closet.

“Families want to know about their general character, their reputation, their social status, behaviour, nature—they want to know all these things.”

Financial status and education are also key concerns.

“Many Australians in my 15-year career have sought services from here,” he said, adding that most NRI business comes from those living in the UK,” says Kapoor.

“Some are NRIs and some are studying there in Australia. Say a girl is here [based in India] and she wants to marry an NRI boy. Then the family wants to check that he’s okay… whether he’s married or not married, whether he has a valid visa or not. That type of fraud comes many times.”

To check up on NRIs living down under, Ascon Detective Agency employs Australian detectives.

“We have to hire those professionals, partners if you like, in Australia. We have relationships there. They can work for us and we can work for them,” Kapoor says.

He attributed the spike in investigations to the proliferation of matrimonial and dating websites—saying they made it easier than ever for people to embellish their attributes and deceive potential partners.

“Online anyone can write anything. It’s very difficult,” he says. “You say ‘I’m staying here, and I’m working here, and I’m doing all these’—but actually are you doing that or not?” he says.

“We have to go to the places and visit the person, otherwise they can fraud na? They can say ‘I am the manager, my salaries this, my properties this’.”

Kapoor says business is also being fuelled by cultural changes taking place across India.

“Before all marriages comes [were arranged] from family to family. But nowadays the family-to-family marriages are very less.

“Boys and girls are now working in a corporate city, at multinational corporations. Now the children finds himself or herself [a partner], the matches are from some website or work,” he says.

“The fraud cases that was there 15 years before were different.”

But the traditional concerns that prompt people to hire detectives in the first place still linger, according to Kapoor.

“Here the family wants pride,” he says.

“And in India many cultures are here, many states are here and every person’s nature is different. So they want to match their nature, their relations, their habits, their everything. If they check before, they think that’s better,” he says.

“Sometimes the person is right, but sometimes the person is not the same character [as they claim to be]—that can go bad, and they don’t want to marry the boy or girl,” he says.

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