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Assam: 60 Qazis arrested as state cracks down on child marriages

Assam government instructed police to round up men who married girls below the age of 14 years under the POCSO act and apprehend those who married girls between the age group of 14 to 18 under the prohibition of the child marriage act.

2278 accused, including 60 Qazis, were arrested till Sunday, 5th February 2023, from districts of central and lower Assam having a large population of illegal Bangladeshi Muslims. These arrests took place as the police acted on more than 4,000 FIRs regarding child marriage cases in Assam.

The step was taken after the Assam government’s decision on January 23 to arrest and punish men who have married minor girls, that is, girls below the age of 18 years.

The Assam government instructed police to round up men who married girls below the age of 14 years under the POCSO act and apprehend those who married girls between the age group of 14 to 18 under the prohibition of the child marriage act.

More than 8000 accused were named in the 4074 cases registered in such cases. Most of these child marriages took place in the lower and central Assam districts having a large population of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

Assam’s chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “More than one lakh underage girls were married off and many of them became child mothers in the recent years including a girl who was just nine years old when she delivered a baby. Action will also be taken against the parents as well as priests or Qazis who performed these illegal marriages.”

According to reports, more than 100 weddings were canceled in the Barak Valley district alone as the police undertook this massive crackdown. Meanwhile, the wives of the arrested men have started a protest demanding the release of their husbands. They have said that their husband is the only earning person in the family so he may be excused.

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