GUWAHATI: Assam Police have arrested 916 locals as part of a wide crackdown on child marriages that was carried out on the intervening night of Gandhi Jayanti, in a move that is being denounced as an attack on religious freedom.
This is the second time during the last six months that Assam has led such a drive. The move comes barely months after the Supreme Court had restrained all courts in the country from treating as a precedent, a recent Punjab and Haryana high court judgment, which held that Muslim girls become legally competent to marry after attaining puberty at the age of 15 years.
AIUDF MLA criticised the way the crackdown has been implemented in the state.
The MLA further questioned the future of the families, whose husbands have been detained for… pic.twitter.com/S4ouhL10Cm
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Assam police on Tuesday also registered 706 cases.
The highest number of arrests have been made from the Dhubri district followed by the Barpeta district.
Among the 192 who have been arrested, 90 are males in Dhubri. In Barpeta, 142 people have been arrested, out of which 72 are husbands.
Earlier, in the day, Chief Minister Himanta Sarma “In a massive crackdown against child marriage, Assam Police has arrested over 800 accused persons in a special operation which began in the early hours of dawn. The number of arrests is likely to rise,” the Assam CM posted on X.
In a similar drive conducted in February this year, around 158 people were arrested from Dhubri, in many cases, under the POCSO act.
Further today, in Karimganj district 46 people have been detained, where 35 are grooms and 14 are family members.
Ten people were detained at Karimganj police station, 3 at Badarpur police station, 9 at Ratabari police station, 10 at Ramkrishnanagar police station, 7 from Nilambajar police station, 5 from Bajrichera and Patharkandi.
Assam CM had said such drives shall go on every six months until the child marriage in the state ends by 2026.
All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) slammed the crackdown.
MLA Rafiqul Islam stated that it was wrong to indicate that only ‘Muslims’ practice child marriages.
“CM is doing is wrong. If someone was married 10 years ago, for whatever reason, if now they have kids who go to school and if the husband is put to jail, who will now take care of the family? We need to child marriage from happening now and for that, we need to spread awareness,” added Rafiqul Islam.