3,047 arrested, crackdown on child marriages to continue till 2026: Assam CM

ByBiswa Kalyan Purkhayastha
Feb 18, 2023 01:33 PM IST

The chief minister said that 251 out of 3,047 (8.23%) have been granted bail so far. 2587 of the arrested persons have been sent to judicial custody while 56 are under police custody

Action against those involved in child marriages will be further intensified in Assam, said chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Friday, adding the drive will continue at least till 2026.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (File Photo)
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (File Photo)

He said, 3,047 persons involved in child marriage have been arrested so far in Assam in the last two weeks.

According to the details provided by the chief minister, police have registered 4,235 cases so far and 6,707 accused have been identified. Out of the 3,047 arrested persons, 93 are female and 2,954 are male, according to the police data.

Also Read: Assam child marriage crackdown ‘creating havoc in private lives’: Gauhati HC

Sarma said that 251 out of 3,047 (8.23%) have been granted bail so far. 2587 of the arrested persons have been sent to judicial custody while 56 are under police custody.

Sharing this information on Friday, Sarma wrote on Twitter, “Child marriage is a social scourge and we are committed to ensure this evil practice is stopped.”

Gauhati high court recently questioned the Assam government on the application of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in such cases. The court also granted bail to nine applicants observing that the charges against them are not appropriate.

After Gauhati HC’s hearing, senior lawyers claimed that more than 90% of the arrested in police crackdown against child marriage will be granted bail.

Advocate Hafiz Rashid Chowdhury recently moved a bail petition before the HC where the accused was even not a family member or neighbour of the family which conducted a child marriage in April 2021. He was later granted bail by the court.

Advocate Chowdhury said that Assam CM was targeting just one community. He said that the police, without proper knowledge of the law, arrested people on the wrong allegations.

Sarma on Friday said that they didn’t arrest anyone after verifying their religious affiliations. “The arrests in Assam include accused and perpetrators of this crime and not done after verifying their religious affiliations. We are resolute in our commitment to end such social evils and eliminate sinful acts of offenders,” he wrote on Twitter.

Following a cabinet decision, the Assam government launched a statewide crackdown on child marriage on February 3.

Also Read: Assam govt forms committee for rehabilitation of child marriage victims

The CM said that those who married minor girls will be booked under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) and those married girls below 14 years, will be arrested under the POCSO act.

The fear of arrest has also led to cases of people dying by suicide across Assam while the opposition has criticised the state government for the move. The Gauhati HC also made a remark that the government has created havoc in the private life of people.

Coming under criticism for failing to secure the future of the affected women and their children, the government had on February 9 formed a cabinet sub-committee for rehabilitation of the victims of “forced child marriage.”

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