Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday asserted that the drive against child marriage, launched by the state police from the previous day, will continue till the next assembly elections in 2026.
More than 2,250 people have been arrested in the state till Saturday in the crackdown on child marriage, according to an official statement.
Altogether 2,258 people have been arrested so far based on 4,074 FIRs registered against child marriages across the state, it said.
At least 139 people have so far been apprehended in Biswanath, followed by 128 in Barpeta and 127 in Dhubri, the police statement said.
Sarma said parents involved in the underage marriage are currently being let off with notice and not being arrested.
“Our drive will continue till 2026 when the next assembly elections will be due. We are hopeful that by then, there will be no case of child marriage in the state,” the chief minister said.
In over 4,000 cases of child marriage, there were more than 8,000 accused.
“If we leave the parents out, the number of accused, who will face arrests, comes to around 3,500,” he said.
The CM said the deputy commissioners have been asked to “control the system of kazis” (Muslim priests who conduct marriages) and create general awareness against the menace.
The state cabinet had recently decided that those having married girls below 14 years of age will be booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The council of ministers also took a decision that cases under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 will be registered against those who have married girls in the 14-18 years age group.
They will be arrested and the marriages will be declared illegal.
If the groom is below 14 years of age, he will be sent to a “reform house”.
Assam has a high rate of maternal and infant mortality, with child marriage being the primary cause as an average of 31 per cent of marriages registered in the state are in the prohibited age group, according to reports of the National Family Health Survey.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)