Action against those involved in child marriages will be further intensified in Assam as the government aims to eliminate the social menace by 2026, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Friday.
There has been no opposition in Assam against the crackdown, he told reporters before chairing a meeting on the issue with deputy commissioners and superintendents of police of all districts. "The meeting has been called to discuss the issue and measures to intensify action against those involved in child marriage," Sarma said.
The idea is to ensure that no child marriage happens in the state, and "we will eliminate it by 2026", he said. Asserting that those arrested are perpetrators of the crime, Sarma maintained that actions have not been taken after verifying religious affiliations.
The Assam government began a crackdown on child marriages on February 3 and has so far arrested 3,047 people, including 2,954 males and 93 females. Police have registered 4,235 cases so far, while 6,707 people have been named in those. Sarma said that only 251 people, or 8.23 per cent, have been granted bail.
The accused are, however, entitled to bail after one-two weeks, he said. "We are resolute in our commitment to end such social evils," he added. The chief minister claimed there was no opposition in the state against the crackdown.
"We are getting full cooperation from religious leaders, public and social organisations in this regard," he claimed. In a tweet, Sarma said he was receiving reports from various parts of the state that several families have cancelled pre-scheduled marriages between underage children after the crackdown.
"This is definitely a positive impact of our two-week-long crackdown against child marriage," he said. Opposition parties have criticised the manner in which the drive is being carried out, terming the arrests of teenage husbands as an "abuse of law" for political gain, and equating the police action with "terrorising people".
Coming under criticism for failing to secure the future of the affected women and their children, the government had on February 9 formed a cabinet sub-committee for rehabilitation of the "victims".