Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday said that the Assam government is discussing bringing a new law in the state against Child Marriage and that the state government’s drive against Child Marriage will continue.
The Assam CM in the state assembly said, “Our stand is clear that Child Marriage must be stopped in Assam. We are discussing bringing a new Act against Child Marriage. By 2026, we are trying to bring a new Act against Child Marriage where we are discussing increasing the term of jail from two years to 10 years. Child Marriage must be stopped. We are crying for the criminals, but not for the victim minor girls. In the state, an 11-year-old minor girl has become a mother, it’s not acceptable. I have seen in Assam that some MLAs are talking in favour of accused persons.”
By giving his reply to the discussions during the Motion of thanks on the Assam Governor’s address to the house during the Budget session of the Assam Legislative Assembly, the Assam Chief Minister said, “The democracy roller will be continued against the offenders who married a child. Rule of law will be continued against Child Marriage. The population control act was passed during the Congress regime and our government is now trying to increase the marriage age from 18 years to 21 years. This house has the responsibility to talk against Child Marriage.”
“The offenders will be arrested every six months. Child Marriage has to be stopped in Assam. There will be two options – either get away me from here or stop the Child Marriage, there is no third option,” the Chief Minister added.
The Assam government on Monday said in the Assam Legislative Assembly that, 494 persons out of 8,773 persons who were charge-sheeted for child marriage and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) cases in the state, have been convicted since 2017.
The state government said that a total of 6,174 persons have been released on bail.
Replying to a query by Congress MLA Abdur Rashid Mandal, Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “A total of 4,049 persons have been arrested under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 since the year 2017 to February of this year and 8908 persons have been arrested under the POCSO Act, 2012 since 2017 to February of this year.”
“The age limit below which boys and girls are called minors as per section 2 (a) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 is below 21 years for boys and below 18 years for girls. As per the information available with the police department, a total of 134 number of boys below the permissible age got married in Assam to date and a total of 2,975 girls below the permissible age got married in the state to date,” he added.
The state government also informed that 50 people were arrested in the state in 2017 under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, while 106 people were arrested in 2018, 156 persons in 2019, 216 in 2020, 166 in 2021, 257 in 2022 and 3,098 in the first two months of this year.
On the other hand, 932 persons were arrested in the state in 2017 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO), while 1,393 people were arrested in 2018, 1,428 in 2019, 1,471 in 2020, 1,500 in 2021, 1,537 in 2022 and 647 in first two months of 2023.
Replying to a separate query by MLA Akhil Gogoi, the Assam Chief Minister said, “From April 2021 to February 2023, a total of 4,111 incidents of child marriage took place in the state.”
“A total of 4,670 cases have been registered in different police stations in the state and 3483 persons have been arrested, of which 1182 persons are in jail and 2253 persons have got bail, notices issued to 48 others,” the CM added.
On the other hand, the Assam Chief Minister also said in the house that, the state government will continue the eviction drive against illegal encroachers following the directives of the High Court.
While talking to ANI, Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) MLA Diganta Kalita said, “In his speech, the Assam Chief Minister clearly said that the eviction drive will be continued as per the directives of the Gauhati High Court.”
“The state government is following the High court order and there will be no excuse. The Assam Chief Minister also requests everyone that, don’t stand with the criminal. Some MLAs talked about encounters, but the Assam Chief Minister said that the action against criminals will be continued as per law. The state government will take strict action against Child Marriage,” Diganta Kalita added.