More Than 2000 Arrested In One Day As Assam Launches Its Biggest Crackdown On Child Marriage
As the crackdown on child marriages in Assam enters its second day, police have arrested more than 2000 people.
A total of 2,044 people, including those who married minors and Hindu and Muslim priests who conducted such weddings, were arrested from across the state on Friday, the first day of the crackdown.
Assam police prepare list of 8000
Assam police had registered 4,004 cases of child marriage in less than a fortnight since the state cabinet decided on January 23 to arrest offenders.
According to reports police has prepared a list of 8,000 accused and the drive will continue.
“We have a list of 8,000 named accused and so far, we have arrested only 2,044 people. The drive against child marriage will continue over the next three to four days and after we get all the data, a proper district-wise analysis can be done,” Director General of Police G P Singh said.
Family members, priests also arrested
Till Friday evening, the highest number of 137 arrests have been made in Biswanath district, followed by 126 in Dhubri, 120 in Baksa, 114 in Barpeta and 96 in Kokrajhar.
Besides members of families that married off their underage children, the police arrested 51 ‘purohits’ and ‘kazis’ who conducted such wedding rituals in religious institutions, the DGP said.
He said the arrests were made after verification of inputs received from family members, the child welfare society, local people and the police personnel.
Why arrest now? women ask
While the police continued the crackdown and said they would launch an awareness campaign against child marriage, various districts also witnessed protests.
“Why take only the men? How will we and or our children survive? We have no means of income,” said 55-year-old Niroda Doley of Majuli district.
Jehira Begum of Dhubri said that her 19-year-old son had brought home a girl who studied in college with him, but they were not married yet.
“Her father, however, reported it to the police and now both my son and husband have been arrested,” she said.
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“My daughter-in-law was 17 when she got married. Now she is 19 and five months pregnant. Who will look after her?” Monowara Khatoon of Morigaon asked.
Arrested will be booked under POCSO
The Assam government had said that those who have married girls below 14 years of age will be booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and cases under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 will be registered against those who have married girls in the 14-18 years age group.
They will be arrested and the marriages will be declared illegal. If the groom is also below 14 years of age, he will be sent to a reform house.
According to National Family Health Survey, an average of 31 per cent of marriages registered in Assam are child marriages.
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