Last Updated: February 09, 2023, 13:02 IST
In an exclusive interview with News18, Sarma said the numbers made it clear that “Hindus and Muslims are same in Assam”. (Twitter @himantabiswa)
Opposition parties have lashed out at the BJP-led government, terming the arrests of teenage husbands and family members as ‘abuse of law’ for political gain and equating the police action with ‘terrorising people’
In an exclusive interview with News18, Sarma said the numbers made it clear that “Hindus and Muslims are same in Assam.” Asked if the crackdown was just a political gimmick as alleged by the Opposition, the chief minister said: “No religion is being targeted. This is an honest effort. We are targeting those who are violating the law.”
Opposition parties have lashed out at the BJP-led government, terming the arrests of teenage husbands and family members as “abuse of law” for political gain and equating the police action with “terrorising people”.
Amid protests in many parts of Assam, the number of those arrested in the state-wide crackdown on child marriages went up to 2,442.
In an unfortunate ramification of the drive, a 17-year-old girl allegedly died by suicide in Assam’s Cachar district after her family prevented her from going ahead with wedding plans with her lover, police said on Monday. The girl had prepared to elope with her lover, but the family came to know about it and prevented her.
The crackdown on child marriage also led to the cancellation of several weddings of underage girls in Assam’s Barak Valley comprising Hailakandi, Cachar and Karimganj districts. Many affected families, including large numbers from minority communities, also claimed that identity documents like Aadhaar cards with erroneous dates of birth of women were cited by the police while registering cases and arresting people.
The state cabinet had recently approved a proposal to book men who have married girls below 14 years of age under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO). Cases under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 will be registered against those who have married girls in the age group of 14-18 years, the cabinet had decided. The offenders will be arrested and the marriages declared illegal.
Trying to pacify the protesters, Sarma had earlier too tweeted: “Our drive against child marriage is for public health & public welfare as teenage pregnancy ratio in Assam is quite alarming. We’re resolved to continue this drive until we fulfil our objective.”
The chief minister also clarified on the government’s decision to get Madrasa teachers coming from outside the state get verified by the police. Islamic leaders have also been asked to keep a watch on the teachers coming from outside Assam.
“Everyone is happy with this. Those who are coming from outside are following the law. We are working together, there is no issue,” he told News18.
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