A 14-year-old girl from Thane was allegedly forced by her brother into marrying a 35-year-old-man in Gujarat. The Thane police have arrested four people on charges of child marriage while two are absconding. Police suspect the accused had also sold the girl to the man for a hefty amount.
The victim is a resident of Lokmanya Nagar Pada no 2 in Thane. She lives with her parents, two brothers and their families. Her elder brother Deepak Gadekar, 25, and his wife Vanita, 25, allegedly hatched the plot to marry off the girl.
“They told the girl to join them on a trip to Rajasthan to which she willingly obliged. They left Mumbai on March 16. Gadekar’s friends Kamal Phasle, Raju Mali, his wife Asha Mali, the co-accused also joined them on the trip. They then took her to the groom Dinesh Mali’s home in Palanpur in Gujarat,” said Shahaji Jadhav, senior police inspector of Vartak Nagar police station.
The police have arrested Deepak, Vanita, Asha and Phasle, but Raju and Dinesh are absconding. The accused have been remanded in police custody till April 18.
The group stayed overnight at Mali’s house in Malgad village in Palanpur district on March 16. The next morning they visited a temple in the village. “The girl asked them several times about why they weren’t going to Rajasthan. On March 17, when they reached the temple, she saw wedding preparations underway and was told by her brother that it was she who was getting married. She protested and started crying but they threatened her with her life,” said NN Patil, assistant police inspector.
Dinesh married her and took her to his house in Malgad where he sexually assaulted her. “He allegedly paid Rs 60,000 to her brother for the marriage. The girl somehow managed to call another of her brothers and told him of her plight. He and her parents then registered a complaint at the police station. “We came to know about her whereabouts in Palanpur and brought her home. Dinesh will also be charged with rape as the girl is a minor,” Patil said.
The victim is a Class 5 dropout and hails from a very poor background. Her family works as ragpickers.