GUWAHATI, March 2: In a shocking incident, a self-styled religious leader who is in his 70s has reportedly married a 15-year-old girl alluring her parents by gifting a shop and a bigha of land that he owns in Barpeta district.
Locals say that the 72-year-old man who pretends as a religious leader in the locality had influenced some of his ‘followers’ and got the marriage solemnized with the help of a local Kazi last night.
“The girl, whose date of birth has been recorded as March 18, 2005, in her school certificate was virtually coerced to get married while the parents were tempted with the offer to transfer a plot of land along with a shop in their names,” a local resident told The Assam Tribune, adding that the parents of the victim girl who are daily wage earners had to endure a tough time during the pandemic and had to do away with all the savings during the lockdown period.
After getting the information about the incident, office bearers of Madhya Gaherpam Tiger Club today submitted a written complaint to the Additional Deputy Commissioner of Barpeta stating that Nur Mohammad, who is a resident of Mandia under Baghbar police station, tempted the guardians and some of the neighbours of the locality with huge property and conducted the marriage stealthily.
They have also named another six persons who had helped Nur Mohammad in reported commission of the crime of child marriage.
Later in the evening, the victim girl was rescued from the house of Nur Mohammad with the help of the civil administration with support from Bheraldi Rural Development Association and the Madhya Gaherpam Tiger Club.
The victim and the accused were also produced before the Child Welfare Committee, Barpeta.
“While child marriage is rampant among marginal communities this one catches our eyes. Factors like poverty, religious fraudulence, coercion, greed, hideousness work here. Besides other reasons, this stealthy marriage may be attributed to the way hundred other similar cases are treated. It will not happen if all protection mechanism work hand-in-hand and keep strict vigilance. The village-level child protection committees might be crucial here,” Rafiqul Islam, a child right activist who took part in the rescue initiatives told The Assam Tribune.