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Father postpones minor girl’s wedding in Almora district for fear of jail term

Prompt action by the authorities saved a minor girl from being married off. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 bans marriage of girls under the age of 18 years and boys under the age of 21 years.

dehradun Updated: Dec 02, 2017 12:55 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Child marriage,Revenue police,Almora
Child marriage is a punishable offence under law in India(HT photo)

The father of a minor girl in Almora district postponed her wedding Friday night and asked the bridegroom’s party which was on its way to the wedding venue to return home after being warned of a possible jail term for child marriage.

The incident took place at Panuwanaulla village is about 30 km from Almora and 380 km from Uttarakhand’s capital Dehradun.

The village falls under the jurisdiction of the revenue police headed by the patwari or revenue official. The revenue police operates in places where the state police does not have a presence.

Avdhesh Kumar, SDM of Bhanoli in Almora received a complaint on Friday morning through child helpline about a child marriage in Panuwanaulla scheduled the same day. As the area was under the revenue police, he informed the patwari Narendra Bisht who reached the village and scrutinized the girl’s documents. He found that the girl was 17 years 6 months old and still a minor. She is tenth standard student in a government school.

Bisht informed her father (44) about the action that could be taken against him under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. Recently, seven people were sent to jail in the area for the marriage of a minor girl. Those sent to jail included members of bride and the bridegroom’s families.

Fearing severe action, the father called bridegroom’s father at about 7.30 pm when the wedding guests were half way to the venue. He requested the family to cancel the wedding and reschedule it six months later when the girl will come of age.

“People are least sensitised about the law. But, due to severe action against one family lately, the people have now become cautious,” Avdhesh Kumar told Hindustan Times.

According to the report of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in May this year

Pithoragarh has the highest percentage of married girls in the age group 10-17 in Uttarakhand at 14%, followed by Bageshwar (12.2%), Champawat (10.3%) and Rudraprayag (9.6%). In Almora it is 8.5%.

“Off late the visibility of such cases has increased and people fear action. We need to rope in non-government organisations for spreading awareness in remote districts,” Bisht said.

The father of the minor works in a hotel in Nainital and has four daughters. This minor girl is the second daughter.

First Published: Dec 02, 2017 12:53 IST