The Assam police arrested 1,039 people during a fresh drive against child marriage on Tuesday.
This was the second such crackdown carried out mostly in the western, central, and southern parts of the State.
“In a massive crackdown against child marriage, Assam police arrested over 800 accused persons in a special operation which began in the early hours. The number of arrests is likely to rise,” Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma posted on X, formerly Twitter.
He put the arrest figure at 1,039 in an updated post.
The raids were carried out largely in migrant Muslim-dominated areas.
A total of 3,907 people – 3,319 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act – were arrested when the drive against child marriage was launched in February. Sixty-two of them were later convicted by the court.
On September 11, Dr Sarma told the 126-member State Assembly that 2,000 to 3,000 men would be arrested in the second phase of the drive against child marriage. “Girls can never march forward and will continue to be exploited if the menace of child marriage continues,” he had said.
Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed said child marriage is a social malaise and should be fought but not in this manner.
“We do not support the government’s modus operandi. We will gain nothing by taking action against people who were married 5-10 years ago and have children. The drive should be against people married recently,” he told journalists.
The Assam government has also decided to end polygamy alongside the drive against child marriage. It constituted a three-member panel a few weeks ago to draft an anti-polygamy law after consulting all stakeholders.
The Chief Minister said the law could be enacted by the end of 2023.
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