The Balapur police in Hyderabad, Telangana have arrested a 61-year-old man Mumbai based businessman identified as Syed Altaf Ali for trying to buy a minor girl for a sum of Rs 3 lakhs. The police have also arrested eight others including the 14-year-old victim’s mother and grandmother who were trying to sell the minor girl. The other arrested persons are Akeel Ahmed, Zareena Begum, Shabana Begum, Shameem Sulthana, Nasreen Begum, Zahaida Begum, Arshia Begum (mother) and Chand Sultana (grandmother).
All the accused were booked under IPC sections 370, 370 (A) r/w 511, Section 17 of the POCSO Act and Section 3 and 5 of Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (PITA).
Speaking about the arrest, B Srikanth, Balapur Sub-Inspector said: “I got a tip-off about the minor girl being sold to a person from Mumbai. Upon receiving information, I informed my senior officers and after obtaining permission we informed the SHE teams and raided the house in Bilal Colony, Errakunta, Balapur and found that all the arrested persons were in the house brokering the deal for selling the girl.”
He further informed that he arrested people, initially claimed it was a family affair and attempted to avoid answering the questions posed at them by the police, but when the police confronted them and sought the truth, the minor girl’s mother admitted to selling her daughter to Syed for Rs 3 lakh.
The mother confessed that they had tried to sell off their minor daughter three months ago to the same Mumbai based businessman, Syed Altaf Ali, but the deal did not work out as he was not ready to pay the demanded amount of Rs 5 lakhs.
Arshia Begum further told the police that a few days earlier, however, her brother met with an accident and they needed money for his treatment. It was then that they contacted Syed again to renegotiate the deal.
Meanwhile, according to the police, Syed Altaf Ali, who is from Mumbai, had divorced his first wife and was looking for a young girl to stay along with. Some common friends introduced Syed to an auto driver Akeel Ahmed. Akeel Ahmed, who was also a broker from Quba colony in Shaheennagar, in turn, contacted Zareeena, Shabana, Shameem, Nasreen and Zahaida seeking help in finding a girl for Syed.
“Akeel with the help of others identified a minor girl who is a resident of Errakunta and convinced her mother to sell the victim for Rs. 3 lakh. After a deal was stuck, Syed Altaf Ali came to the city. On information, the police raided the house and arrested them,” informed Rachakonda Commissioner, Mahesh Muralidhar Bhagwat.
Other incidences of older men marrying minors in Hyderabad
The rising number of incidences of older men marrying minors is a source of concern for the police, particularly in Hyderabad. Several reports have come to light in the past about such incidents. In 2020, the Hyderabad police had booked seven people, including the parents of the girl they married off their 16-year-old minor daughter to a 54-year-old man identified as Abdul Lateef from Kerala. The accused had been staying in Hyderabad city.
In September 2017, the Hyderabad police had arrested 3 Muslim clerics and 8 Arab Sheikhs. These Arab Sheikhs were marrying minor girls with the help of Qazis, brokers and lodge owners. The girls were even sexually assaulted by the Qazis.
This crackdown had come close to a complaint by a woman in August against her husband for allegedly “Selling off” their minor daughter to a 70-year-old Omani national named Ahmed Abdullah.