ANI Photo | 4 arrested for arranging child marriage in Barpeta district of Assam

Assam Police arrested four people, including a 29-year-old groom, for allegedly conducting child marriage in the Kurbaha area in Assam’s Barpeta district, officials said on January 27.

The official said that a Qazi (Imam) was among those arrested for allegedly arranging child marriage in Barpeta district.

The area falls under the limits of Sorbhong Police station.

According to police, 29-year-old Sanuar Hussain hailing from the Gubardhana area near Barpeta had planned to marry a 16-year-old minor girl.

“The groom along with Qazi and other persons reached Kurbaha village to marry the minor girl on Thursday,” an official familiar with the matter said.

“After receiving the information, our team reached the spot and rescued the minor girl. We also caught four persons including the groom, his father and Qazi for arranging the child marriage. We handed over the minor girl to Sakhi -One Stop Centre Scheme,” the official said.

“We have registered a case and arrested all four persons,” a police officer of Sorbhong police station said.

The Assam government has decided to book men who marry girls aged below 14 years in the state under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on January 24.

The major reason for the high maternal and infant mortality rate in the state is child marriage, he said, adding 31 per cent of marriages in the state have been done in the prohibited age group.

“We will launch a massive crackdown against child marriage in the state. Those marrying girls below the age of 14 years, will be booked under the POCSO Act,” the CM said earlier in the month.

POCSO Act of 2012 defines a child as an individual under the age of 18 and it criminalises sex between an under-age child and an adult.

While cases will be registered under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, if the bride is between 14 to 18 years old, the chief minister said.

The legal age for marriage is 18 years for women and 21 for men.

“The panchayat secretaries of the villages in the state will also be designated as child marriage prohibition officers. Hence, from now on, in case of child marriage, the complaint will be lodged before the Panchayat secretary of the village,” the CM added earlier in the month.

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