Crackdown on child marriage: Over 1,800 arrested across Assam, says CM Sarma

The crackdown began on Friday morning and will continue over the next three to four days, CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (IE)

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday said that the Assam Police has so far arrested over 1,800 people in connection with child-marriage related cases across the state. In a tweet, Sarma said that the arrests were made under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, and has directed police to adopt “zero tolerance” to those who are involved in the “unpardonable and heinous crime on women”.

The crackdown began on Friday morning and will continue over the next three to four days, Sarma told reporters on the sidelines of a programme in Guwahati.

The highest number of arrests were made in Dhubri district where 370 cases have been registered and 136 arrests made, followed by Barpeta while 100 arrests were made in Nagaon.

On January 23, The CM said that the BJP government in Assam will launch a statewide drive against child marriage, booking men who have married girls below 14 years of age under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and cases under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 will be registered against those who have married girls in the 14-18 years age group.

Since the announcement, 4,004 cases were registered by Assam police against child marriage, the CM said.

He added that priests, Kazis and family members involved in the conduct of such marriages will also be booked.

On Thursday, Sarma chaired a virtual meeting with the superintendents of police in the presence of Director General of Police G P Singh on the state-wide police action.

The CM had earlier reiterated that the action was not being taken to target a particular community, and that the aim was to address the high maternal mortality and infant mortality rates in the state, which it has pinned on early motherhood.

Assam has a high rate of maternal and infant mortality, with child marriage being the primary cause as an average of 31 per cent of marriages registered in the state are in the prohibited age, according to reports of the National Family Health Survey.

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First published on: 03-02-2023 at 16:37 IST