Assam Police have arrested over 1800 child marriage suspects in a statewide crackdown. Today, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted that 1800+ people have been arrested for child marriage violations.
“I have asked the Assam Police to act with zero tolerance against the unpardonable and heinous crime against women,” the CM added. Assam police have registered 4004 child marriage cases, and most arrests will be made in three days.
Himanta Biswa Sarma gave a district-by-district breakdown of cases filed yesterday and said action would begin on February 3. Police began arresting people named in the cases last night. The CM also predicted additional police cases in the following days.
The CM reported 370 of 4004 cases in Dhubri. Hojai has 255, Uddalguri 235, Morigaon 224, Kokrajhar 204, and Guwahati 192. Hailakandi has one case.
State wide arrests are presently underway against those violating provisions of Prohibhiton of Child Marriage Act .
1800 + have been arrested so far.
I have asked @assampolice to act with a spirit of zero tolerance against the unpardonable and heinous crime on women
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) February 3, 2023
CM Sarma told the media, “Till 8 a.m. today, a total of 1800 persons have been arrested in connection with child marriage-related incidents in various districts of the state.” The police will continue statewide operations for three to four days. “The DGP will clarify arrest details in the evening.”
The Assam government decided in a January 23 cabinet meeting that it would crack down on child marriages across the state. The POCSO Act and Prohibition of Child Marriage Act would be used to prosecute men who marry under-14-year-old girls, the government said. The Prevention of Child Marriage Act also applies to brides aged 14–18.
To minimise infant and maternal mortality and prevent child marriages in rural areas, the cabinet designated all 2,197 Gram Panchayat Secretaries as “child marriage prevention (prohibition) officials” under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. The state administration thoroughly reviewed the Fifth National Family Health Survey (NHFS), according to the CM.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma held a videoconference meeting with senior police officials, including Superintendents of Police of all districts, on Thursday night to discuss the state-wide police action against child marriage that would begin today.
The Chief Minister urged the public to support the state’s child marriage ban. He also said the police would arrest anyone who had a child marriage in the past seven years, with a focus on “mullahs, kazis, and pujaris” who performed them.
Assam Govt is firm in its resolve to end the menace of child marriage in the state.
So far @assampolice has registered 4,004 cases across the state and more police action is likely in days ahead. Action on the cases will begin starting February 3. I request all to cooperate. pic.twitter.com/JH2GTVLhKJ
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) February 2, 2023
“These many cases have been registered within nine days; by tomorrow, this number might cross 8,000 or 9,000,” he said of the 4004 cases filed. Arrests and action start Friday. Statewide pickups will occur. Massive activity… retroactively booking all child marriage perpetrators from the past seven years. On February 2, he said, “We will target mullahs, kazis, and pujaris who promote these marriages.”
Sarma insisted that the crackdown will not target any community, even though Dhubri, Morigaon, Hojai, and Nalbari are Muslim-majority districts. “Everyone will be punished,” he said.
Some child marriage suspects fled Assam as police arrested them. Rupahi police detained 58 bus passengers heading to Kerala. Qazis accused of marrying minors have also vanished.
It is worth mentioning that India has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. Here are some statistics:
- 47% of girls in India are married before the age of 18.
- Child marriage is more common in rural areas (59%) than in urban areas (15%).
- The highest rates of child marriage are found in the states of Rajasthan (75%), Andhra Pradesh (68%), and Bihar (63%).
- According to the 2011 census, more than 5.5 million women in India were married before the age of 18.
It’s important to note that child marriage is a violation of human rights and has serious consequences for the health, education, and overall well-being of girls. The Indian government has taken steps to fix the problem, such as making 18 the legal age for girls to get married and running awareness campaigns. However, a lot more needs to be done to stop the practise and protect the rights of girls in India.