Temporary Jails Come Up As Assam Continues Crackdown On Child Marriages


Workers were busy shovelling and scores of asbestos sheets were lying around as preparations were on to convert the Silchar ground, overgrown with grass, into a makeshift-prison to house those arrested in the crackdown against child marriage.

Over 2,500 people have been arrested in the massive crackdown on child marriages in the state.

The temporary jails will be made operational in a day or so, police sources said.

“We have arrested a lot of people. We will be arresting more in the days to come and have got the permission from the government to create a temporary jail and use it when required,” said Numal Mahatta, Superintendent of Police, Cachar.

Protests against the arrests by women activists were reported yesterday from Matia in Goalpara district and Silchar in Cachar district.

They protested before a transit camp in Matia and a stadium in Silchar, which were converted to temporary jails to accommodate those arrested in child marriage cases.

Chief Minister Himanta Sarma said the crackdown on child marriage will continue and if needed, will go on till the next state election in 2026.

Justifying the crackdown, Mr Sarma had pointed out that teenage pregnancy accounted for nearly 17 per cent of over 6.2 lakh pregnant women last year in the state.

The opposition parties have criticised the manner in which it is being carried out, terming the arrests of teenage husbands and family members as “abuse of law” for political gain and equating the police action with “terrorising people”.

The state cabinet had recently approved a proposal to charge 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.

Assam has a high rate of maternal and infant mortality, with child marriage being the primary cause as an average of 31 per cent of marriages registered in the state are in the prohibited age, according to reports of the National Family Health Survey.