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Minor girl saved from marriage

An anonymous call to the women’s helpline at Barasat police station saved a 13-year-old girl from being married off on Monday.

The groom, Narendra Ram, 45, from Bhiwani district in Haryana, and two of his friends, Prem Chand and Rajendra Mallick from Barasat, were arrested and booked for trafficking and involvement in a minor girl’s marriage. Police suspect that the trio are part of a trafficking racket.

The officers at Barasat police station received a call on a special helpline number — 9830220100 — at 9.45am on Monday, requesting them to reach a house at Netaji Pally in Duttapukur immediately. A team of officers raided the house.

“We received a call on the helpline and acted on it. We will now interrogate the three to understand their motive and get to the root of the racket,” said Bhaskar Mukherjee, the additional superintendent of police, Barasat.

The girl’s father, a farm labourer, was present at the wedding venue but was not arrested. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, states that guardians of a child and people involved in solemnising her marriage, such as priests and guests, will face punishment. Involvement in child marriage could result in rigorous imprisonment of up to two years or fine of up to Rs 1 lakh or both.

“We have not arrested her father because the girl might suffer once handed back to her family,” said an officer of Barasat police station. The girl will stay at a state-run home in Madhyamgram till the court decides on her future.

Two weeks ago a 16-year-old schoolgirl was rescued from her Dhapa home, hours before she was to be forcibly married off by her parents. She herself had alerted the police.