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Assam: Crackdown on child marriage continues, number of total arrests rises to 2,441

Assam: There is a mixed-bag reaction on the ongoing crackdown by Assam police on child marriage. A section of people appreciated the move while another section criticize citing the livelihood of women and children.

Edited By: Raju Kumar @rajudelhi123 Guwahati Published on: February 06, 2023 13:32 IST
Police action against child marriages
Image Source : PTI Police action against child marriages

In an unprecedented state-wide action against families involved in child marriages, Assam police so far arrested 2,441 as of Monday. 

The crackdown on child marriage continued on the fourth day with the number of arrests totalling 2,441 so far, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

4,074 FIRs filed 

A police statement said the arrests have been made based on 4,074 FIRs filed across the state.

"Total arrest so far - 2441. Crackdown against child marriage continues in Assam," Sarma tweeted.

He had earlier asserted that the drive will continue till the 2026 assembly elections.

The crackdown has faced criticism from the opposition and protests at various places by the affected families.

Till Sunday evening, 139 people were apprehended in Biswanath district, followed by 130 in Barpeta and 126 in Dhubri, the statement said.

Dhubri registered the highest number of FIRs against child marriages at 374 cases, followed by Hojai (255) and Morigaon (224), it added.

Family members, including children, of those arrested, continued to gather at police stations, demanding their release.

Protest against move

Protests have been staged in different parts -- Barak Valley, Morigaon, Dhubri and Nagaon districts -- by the affected families.

Meanwhile, seven people got bail in child-marriage cases in Rangia in Kamrup district.

The court of sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), Rangia, granted bail to the accused, a lawyer said.

"More are likely to get bail here by the end of the day," he said.

Sarma had earlier said those facing Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) charges are under bailable sections, but the ones held under POCSO will face non-bailable charges.

Owaisi slams Assam government 

Questioning the motive behind the crackdown, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said that the Assam government should have concentrated on increasing literacy levels if it was actually seized of the problem of child marriage.

"Experts have said that if you want to stop child marriages, you have to open a lot of schools, (but) you have not done that. You have closed down the madrassas too which were imparting some form of education," he alleged.

Owaisi sought to know who will be responsible for the women left in the lurch following the arrest of the men of the house.

Assam Congress president Bhupen Bora said a humane approach was needed in dealing with the issue.

"We are opposed to child marriage. But what will be the benefit of disrupting settled families, with grown-up children? It is nothing but a publicity stunt," he said.

Assam Jatiya Parishad chief Lurinjyoti Gogoi alleged that the government went ahead with the crackdown without assessing its impact on the people.

"The government should have thought of the situation the wives, families will face when the arrests happen.
It was a haphazardly executed step," he maintained.

The AIUDF had on Saturday claimed that the Assam government crackdown on child marriage was conducted "without framing the requisite rules".

The state cabinet had recently approved a proposal to book men who have married girls below 14 years of age under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

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, the cabinet decided.

The offenders will be arrested and the marriages declared illegal. If the groom is below 14 years of age, he will be sent to a reform house.

Assam has a high rate of maternal and infant mortality, with child marriage being the primary cause, according to reports by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS).
(With PTI input)

Also read: Will Assam CM Himanta look after girls when husbands go to jail, Owaisi asks on child marriages crackdown

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