Will not allow child marriages in Assam till I am alive: Himanta Biswa Sarma | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Will not allow child marriages in Assam till I am alive: Himanta Biswa Sarma

Feb 26, 2024 10:07 PM IST

The AIUDF and the opposition Congress advocated amendments to the law to ensure that its provisions were not used to conduct marriages of children rather than throw out the entire legislation

GUWAHATI: Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday rejected criticism of his government’s decision to repeal Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act 1935 rather than amend a provision to bar child marriage, saying he wouldn’t allow child marriages to take place in the state till he was around.

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma speaks on the state cabinet approving the ‘Assam Repealing Ordinance 2024’ (Himanta Biswa Sarma-X)
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma speaks on the state cabinet approving the ‘Assam Repealing Ordinance 2024’ (Himanta Biswa Sarma-X)

“No one would be allowed to play with the lives of Muslim boys and girls. I am politically challenging that before 2026 I will stop this. Isn’t the Congress ashamed that the party is standing in favour of getting 6–8-year-old boys and girls married,” Sarma said, responding to criticism by some opposition MLAs including those from the All-India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).

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“I will not allow child marriage to take place in Assam. And I would like to tell members from the Congress and AIUDF that till Himanta Biswa Sarma is alive, I will not allow it,” he added.

The AIUDF and the opposition Congress advocated amendments to the law to ensure that its provisions were not used to conduct marriages of children rather than throw out the entire legislation.

“It would have been logical to amend the existing law. If it’s repealed and new legislation is brought, it could lead to harassment of people. Sections 8 and 10 of the present legislation could have been amended,” leader of opposition from Congress, Debabrata Saikia, said in the assembly.

Congress members staged a walkout from the House for 10 minutes while AIUDF MLAs went to the Well of the House and squatted for 5 minutes after its demand for an adjournment motion was rejected by speaker Biswajit Daimary.

“We had noticed that this present legislation was being used to register marriages of boys and girls under the permissible age. We think that today’s move will be a big step in curbing such child marriages,” tourism minister Jayanta Malla Baruah said last week when he announced the cabinet decision.

The 1935 Act provided for voluntary registration of Muslim marriages and divorces and allowed the state government to provide license to a member of the community. Calling the decision a “step closer towards achieving the Uniform Civil Code”, Baruah said on Friday that the cabinet felt it was “necessary to repeal the Act as it was old and didn’t match with today’s societal norms”.

The BJP-led coalition government in Assam launched a campaign against child marriages last year and several thousand persons including those who indulged in such acts or conducted marriages between children under legal ages, especially those belonging to the Muslim community, were arrested.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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