Guwahati: Assam Police have arrested four people, including a 29-year-old groom, for allegedly conducting child marriage in the Kurbaha area in Assam’s Barpeta district, police said on January 27.
This has come after the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led Assam government decided to act against child marriage as a criminal offence in a cabinet decision on January 25.
Barpeta police informed that a Qazi (Imam) was arrested for allegedly arranging child marriage in the Barpeta district. The area falls under the Sorbhog Police station of the District.
According to reports, 29-year-old Sanuar Hussain hailing from the Gobardhana area near Barpeta, had planned to marry a 15-year-old minor girl.
The groom, along with Qazi and his family, reached Kurbaha village to marry the 15-year-old minor girl on January 26. The local Panchayat informed the police about child marriage.
After receiving the information, a police team reached the spot and rescued the minor girl. The police team arrested four persons, including the 29-year-old groom Sanuar Hussain, his father, Sayeb Ali, uncle Nur Islam and Qazi, for arranging the child marriage of Shahanur Ali. Police handed the minor girl to NGO Sakhi for counselling and further care.
Earlier, Assam Government decided in a cabinet decision to book men who marry girls aged below 14 years in the State under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012. Under the POCSO act, men who marry children under 14 may get a punishment up to life imprisonment.
Moreover, anyone involved in child marriage who marries a girl under the age of 18 years will be booked under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the increasing number of child marriages is a prime reason for the high newborn and mother mortality rate.
According to National Family Health Survey (NFHS), five survey data child marriage rate in Muslim majority District of Assam is alarmingly high. In Dhubri district, the child marriage rate is 50.8 per cent, South Salmara 44.7 per cent, Darrang and Barpeta 42 per cent, Goalpara and Nagaon 41 per cent, Bongaigaon 40 per cent and Morigaon 39 per cent. The early motherhood percentage in these districts is 22 per cent and above.