GUWAHATI: In a continued effort to eradicate the social menace of child marriages in Assam, the police have apprehended a significant number of individuals allegedly involved in facilitating these unlawful unions.
Director General of Police (DGP), GP Singh, recently revealed that since the commencement of the second phase of their operation against the social evil, the police have arrested 915 individuals out of the 1,100 allegedly involved in these illicit unions.
Details shared by the DGP revealed that among the 915 detainees, 546 are husbands involved in these unlawful nuptials, 353 are related family members, and 16 are individuals who solemnized the marriages. This operation resulted in the registration of 710 cases.
Notably, an earlier crackdown in February this year had already seen a substantial number of arrests and cases registered. The first phase witnessed 4,515 cases being filed, leading to the arrest of 3,483 persons. Remarkably, chargesheets have been filed in 95.5% of these cases.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has indicated that the arrest count from this phase is likely rise, noting that as of Tuesday, 1,039 people had been detained. The regions witnessing the highest number of arrests include Dhubri district with 192, followed by Barpeta at 143, Kamrup at 50, and 47 in Karimganj, 40 in Hailakandi, and 34 in Cachar in the Barak Valley.
However, the state’s fight against child marriage is not without its challenges. In a revelation to the Assam Assembly on September 11, Sarma disclosed that despite arresting 3,907 individuals in the past five years over child marriage concerns, the courts had convicted only 62.
The approach to combatting this deeply entrenched issue has sparked a debate. Opposition parties, such as the Congress, argue that the police-led crackdown isn’t the sole solution. They stressed that the need for sustained community campaigns and the involvement of all stakeholders to ensure long-lasting change.
Nevertheless, the Chief Minister remains optimistic. He has previously stated his vision of a state free from child marriages by 2026 and plans to designate all gram panchayat secretaries as child marriage prevention officers to bolster the initiative.