Gaurav Gogoi calls Assam govt’s crackdown on child marriages “farce”

Guwahati: Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi on Saturday criticised the Assam government’s efforts to combat child marriage.

Calling it a “farce”, Gogoi said, “It seems the police are instructed to investigate cases that are decades old without proper enquiry or adherence to procedure. It’s a farce.”

He further said that the people of the state have “completely rejected” the initiative.

Gogoi also referred to the Assam government’s crackdown as a PR stunt.

“It is a PR exercise for the Chief Minister under whose tenure – cases of mafia, crimes against women and elderly, drugs and kidnappings have increased. Police are reprimanded by high courts for failing their investigation esp in the Arnamai Bora murder case,” he wrote in his tweets.

Notably, the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led State government is carrying out the crackdown against child marriages in light of an increase in cases of child marriage (marriage between people under the age of 18) involving Assamese women, as reported by the National Report of the fifth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5).

According to the most recent information, 2258 persons who were involved in child marriage instances have been detained by Assam police across the state.

Police claimed to have a list of 8,000 suspects, and as the search continues, that number will grow.

The drive was started on Thursday night after CM Himanta Biswa Sarma presided over a video conference meeting with senior police department officials; he granted them the go-ahead to initiate a crackdown to eradicate the state’s heinous practise of child marriage.

This episode of the wave of crackdowns began on May 5, 2022, the day the Health Ministry released the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5fifth )’s report, which was conducted in 2019 and 2020.

The Assam government reviewed the study carefully and thoroughly, and it revealed major worries about teen pregnancy, child marriage, and maternal mortality.

According to the study, 31.8% of women in Assam between the ages of 20 and 24 were married when they were underage or younger than 18 years old. This was much greater than the country as a whole’s average of 23.3%.

More than half (50.8%) of these 31.8% of women’s cases were from Dhubri, the parliamentary district of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) MP Badruddin Ajmal.

As per the government, child marriage leads to teenage pregnancy in women causing maternal deaths in the state.

According to the Assam police data, 139 people have been arrested in Biswanath, 126 in Dhubri, 120 in Baksa, 114 in Barpeta, 97 in Nagaon, 96 in Hojai, 94 in Kokrajhar, 87 in Bongaigaon, 79 in Karimganj, 76 in Hailakandi, 72 in Cachar, 72 in Goalpara district in cases related to child marriage.

Director General of Assam Police (DGP) GP Singh stated at a press conference on Friday that 4,074 incidents of child marriage have been reported to various police stations around the state.

Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma informed that the state’s campaign against child weddings will continue in the days to come.

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