Child marriage row: Jharkhand BJP chief refuses to step down

  • B Vijay Murty, Hindustan Times, Ranchi
  • Updated: Jul 05, 2016 22:32 IST
Jharkhand BJP chief Tala Marandi during a meeting at the party headquarters in Ranchi on Tuesday. (Bijay/HT photo)

Jharkhand BJP chief and Boriyo legislator Tala Marandi, accused of marrying off his son to a minor, has refused to step down, saying that he will relinquish his party post only after charges against him are proved.

Marandi’s refusal came amid growing protests by the opposition and suggestions by a section of his own party leaders asking him to vacate the post until he comes out clean.

“Let the law take its course and I am not worried at all. No one can claim and prove that I am using the powers of my office to influence the law enforcement agencies,” Marandi, who came to capital Ranchi to attend a party workers’ meeting on Tuesday, told reporters.

Marandi is accused of marrying off his son Munna to an 11-year-old minor girl, a Class 4 student in Mahgama, when her marriage was fixed with Munna overnight after his fiancé refused to marry him following a sexual harassment charge against him.

Women activists and opposition leaders accused Munna and his politically influential family of ruining the lives of three tribal girls.

While an FIR indicting rape charges has been lodged against Munna under duress from media, a compliant has also been filed in the Godda court against the father-son duo and the minor girl’s father, for promoting and solemnising child marriage.

The district administration after a probe, lodged the complaint urging the court to take cognizance of offences committed by the accused under various Sections of the Prevention of Child Marriage Act.

\Questioning why an FIR was not lodged with the police and the accused arrested opposition Congress has alleged that “it is a deliberate attempt to buy time and give relief to the accused.

“The entire system is working to protect the BJP chief and his son,” said Godda Congress president Deepika Pande.

“Deep Narayan Mandal, principal of SDN School, who released document certifying the minor’s age, has been asked to go underground and is traceless and has gone incommunicado,” he said.

“The BDO, who lodged the complaint after finding the allegation prima facie true, was transferred the next working day (Monday). To divert attention, Tala Marandi has spread rumours that his son’s life is in danger.”

Congress leaders, including former Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay, alleged that in the BJP-ruled state, police, it seems has been instructed not to act against its party workers and affiliates.

Last month, two minor girls were raped and killed in Godda and the accused turned out be the local BJP parliamentarian’s representative, who is allegedly moving around scot-free, some of them said.

The BJP chief is unfazed and is instead blaming rival JMM for tarnishing his image. “With me at the helm, the JMM is wary that the BJP will sweep all seats in their Santhal Parganas stronghold. Hence, they are levelling false allegations and spreading rumours against me and my family.”

He reiterated that marriages in the tribal society do not take place after verification of birth certificates of the bride and groom.

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