A 16-year-old girl, who was being forced to marry a 28-year-old man by her parents, was rescued from the wedding venue in Kalwa near Thane on Wednesday.
The district child protection unit officers, including Sandeep Lanjewar, Palghar Officer and Parmeshwar Dhasare, received a tip-off from one of the relatives of the girl.
“We raided the spot at Shankar Mandir at 12.30pm on Wednesday. Her father is a drunkard, who agreed to the marriage to reduce financial burden on his family. The parents had borrowed Rs 50,000 from a relative for the wedding,” said Lanjewar.
The girl is a student of Class 10 in a civic school in Kalwa. “I want to study and become a teacher, but my parents were forcing me to get married. I thank the officials who rescued me,” she said.
“We have arrested four people – the girl’s father, Pavitra alias Raju, 28, who was going to marry the girl, Sudarshan Khali, 55, Pavitra’s father and Govinda Tripati, 50, the priest who was conducting the proceedings. They will be produced in the Thane sessions court on Thursday,” said Kamalluddin Shaikh, sub-inspector, child protection unit.
“The child welfare committee will decide if the girl should be handed over to her parents or sent to the remand home in Bhiwandi. If other people in the city come across such cases, they should inform the police,” said Madan Ballal, senior police inspector, child protection unit, Thane.
The district protection unit, which has 12 officers in Thane district, is an integrated child protection scheme implemented by the Central government under the guidance of the women and child development commissionerate, Pune.
“The girl’s father allegedly forced his son to work, so that he could get money for his drinking habits. If we find him guilty, he we will be booked under the child labour act too,” said Parmeshwar Dhasare.