Teen girl, forcibly married to 27-yr-old man on Akshay Tritiya, rescued; 7 booked
Amid the lockdown, a 16-year-old girl belonging to North Delhi’s Burari, who was forcefully married to a man in neighbouring Haryana’s Sonepat district was rescued on Sunday night (Akshay Tritiya) by the state police and NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, which had initially received the information. The police arrested seven persons in the case, including the girl’s father and the groom.
According to Manish Sharma, senior manager of the NGO’s access to the justice department in Delhi, on April 25, he got a tip-off on his WhatsApp about a girl, a student of class 10 in a government-run school in Burari, being taken away by her father to get married in Haryana amid the lockdown.
“The WhatsApp message I received was from an unknown number. It also mentioned the contact number of the girl’s father. I then shared the details with our Haryana state coordinator, who, in turn, informed the police and other state authorities,” said Sharma.
As per a statement from the NGO, the state anti-human trafficking unit (AHTU) also took note and approached the police for help.
The Sonepat police’s cyber-crime unit put the girls’ father’s phone on surveillance and tracked it down to the district’s Gohana village. “After being put on surveillance on April 26, it was found that the girl was married to a 27-year-old man late on the night ,of Akshay Tritiya. It has been a a long-standing tradition here, many people marry off their underage daughters on this day,” the NGO’s statement said.
Subsequently, the police rounded up the suspects and rescued the girl. The girl was produced before the local Child Welfare Committee (CWC) whose members heard in detail the events leading to the arrests, it stated.
Superintendent of Police (Sonepat) Jashandeep Singh Randhawa confirmed the arrests. “The minor has been rescued and seven people have been arrested in this connection,” he said.
An FIR wa registered at the Gohana police station under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant when lockdown is in force), relevant provisions of Sections 370 (trafficking) and 370A (exploitation of a trafficked person) of the IPC, the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, and Child Marriage (Prohibition) Act.
The NGO in its statement further said, “It is now for the court to declare the ‘marriage’ null and void. The minor has been housed at a quarantine facility in Sonepat. The incident shows that children are not safe even with the lockdown and strict surveillance is required on the part of authorities in all states.”