Minor flees clutches of groom
Raiganj, May 10: A 12-year-old North Dinajpur girl who had been forced to marry an Uttar Pradesh man twice her age by her parents sneaked out of the house on the day she was supposed to be taken to the north Indian state and sought a neighbour’s help.
Police and the district child welfare committee rescued the girl, a resident of Gouripur village, 36km from Raiganj, and put her in a government home. Her parents, who took Rs 40,000 from the groom’s family for the marriage, have fled while her husband, his aunt and grandfather have been arrested.
Haren Barman, the neighbour whose help the girl sought, said: “Around 1pm yesterday, she came crying to my house. She said she fled from her house when her parents, husband and his relatives were preoccupied with some work.”
Barman said everybody in the neighbourhood loved the girl. “She is very adorable. Her parents stopped sending her to school after she completed her primary education. About a month ago, her father Narayan Roy decided to marry her off. He said the groom was from Uttar Pradesh,” Barman said.
He said some villagers tried to reason with Roy, a farmer, not to marry off his under-age daughter.
“At first, he refused to listen. Later, he said the groom’s family had pledged to give him Rs 40,000. He said if we paid him the same amount, he would not marry off his daughter. But we are poor farmers, how can we arrange for so large an amount?” Barman said.
On Monday, the girl was married off to the 24-year-old youth from Aligarh. The wedding was held at Roy’s house.
“The girl showed courage in escaping from home. She told me she had been forced to marry by her parents. I informed Kaliaganj police station and the district chairperson of the child welfare committee (CWC),” Barman said.
CWC chairperson Sunil Bhowmick said he had met the girl at the government home. “She told me she wanted to continue with her studies. She said she was afraid.”
Bhowmick said migrant labourers from Bengal “sound out” acquaintances in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and other states about prospective brides back home.
“Often, many girls are lured away on false marriage promises. I have requested the district administration and the police to probe into such trafficking rackets,” he said.
Bhowmick said a CWC and police team rescued the girl around 6pm last evening. “We have admitted the girl to the child welfare home in Raiganj. She will stay there and we will take care of her studies,” he said.
The additional superintendent of police (headquarters), Amlan Ghosh, said: “We have arrested the groom, Nabkush Singh, his aunt Gayetri Devi and grandfather Kanhai Rajbhor. The parents of the girl are absconding.”
Police sources said the trio had been booked under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, which entails a punishment of two years in jail and/or a fine of Rs 1 lakh. The three were today remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by the chief judicial magistrate’s court here.