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Assam: More arrests over child marriage

Crackdown is part of the state government’s efforts to end the regressive practice of child marriage within five years
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Umanand Jaiswal   |   Guwahati   |   Published 05.02.23, 04:03 AM

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said that there will be no let-up in the state-wide crackdown against child marriage.

His assertion was reflected in the arrest figure released by police in the evening, showing the arrest of 214 more accused and pushing the number of arrested to 2,258 since Friday, the first day of the drive.     


The crackdown is part of the state government’s efforts to end the regressive practice of child marriage within five years. The drive was launched after the National Family Health Survey 5, conducted between 2019 and 2020 by the Centre, revealed the proportion of underage mothers and pregnant girls in Assam stood at an “alarming” 11.7 per cent, much higher than the national average of 6.8 per cent, suggesting “rampant” child marriage, one of the causes of the high maternal and infant mortality rates in the state.

Sharing details of the drive and the government’s resolve to end child marriage in the state by 2026, Sarma said: “The drive against child marriage will continue... to save lakhs and lakhs of underage girls from child marriage, for this a generation has to suffer. There is no question of sympathy here. Child marriage has to end in Assam.”  

The legal age for marriage in India is 18 for women and 21 for men.

Altogether 8,134 accused have been named in the 4,074 FIRs registered till now but not every accused will be arrested.  

“There are some accused like the parents... they will be served notice but will not be arrested immediately. The number of those who will be arrested and produced in court is around 3,500,” Sarma said.

The chief minister also said those who have married girls above 14 years will be booked under bailable sections and those below 14 years will be booked under non-bailable sections.

“The accused have been arrested under various provisions of the Pocso (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act and relevant sections of the IPC (Indian Penal Code), Assam DGP G.P. Singh said on Friday.

On the first day, 2,044 accused were arrested from all 36 police districts of the state.

Among other steps to check child marriage, Sarma said deputy commissioners will regulate the role of qazis and those who solemnise such marriages to prevent age fudging, create awareness among public and set up a helpline for underage girls so that they can reach the police and they can in return help the girls from becoming a victim of child marriage.  

“I think a lot of awareness has been generated about the child marriage menace after these arrests. Many political leaders and social organisations have extended their support to the ongoing drive. I want to tell everyone that this drive will continue till the 2026 Assembly polls so that there is no child marriage in the state,” he said.

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