#minorsextrafficking | 15-year-old girl rescued in Assam by BSF from forced marriage

The Border Security Force’s Anti Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) has rescued a 15-year-old girl from a forced marriage in Karimganj district of Assam, officials said.

The incident took place at Nilambazar area near Indo-Bangladesh International Border on July 14. Based on secret information, the Anti Human Trafficking Unit secretly went to the village and managed to catch the parents of both the girl and the boy, along with the priest. They handed over the boy and other family members to the police. The girl has been sent to a children protection home in Karimganj.

Officials of the BSF inform that after getting the information about the child marriage, a joint operation was launched by BOP Bilbari Intelligence staff and troops of 134 Bn BSF, Nilambazar at a village named Kaboi. They also informed the local police about this but asked them to come a bit later, only once they catch the culprits red-handed.

“Our anti-trafficking unit received information that a 15-year-old girl is being forcibly married to a 20-year-old boy in a village near the border. In these cases, if we don’t catch them red-handed, we cannot save the girl. We made a plan to enter the village secretly and we informed the police as well. At around 4:00 pm we went to the house where the ritual was taking place and caught them. Later, we handed over the culprits to the police. In past also we received so much of information but the culprits managed to escape. Child marriage is a sensitive issue which needs to be addressed more carefully, especially in border areas,” the officials said.

Officer in charge of Nilambazar police station, Kamlesh Singh, informed that both the girl and the boy are underaged for marriage. A case under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) 2006 and some other charges have been registered against their parents and the priest.

He said, “BSF’s Anti Human Trafficking Unit informed the police about rescuing a girl from child marriage. They conducted the initial operation and handed over the people involved in the marriage to the police. We have found that the girl’s mother is a widow and she is financially weak. We allowed her to go home under a bond on humanitarian ground. The priest and some other people involved in the marriage have been detained. Further investigation and interrogations are going on in this case.”

Child marriage and trafficking is a common issue in Barak Valley area which shares a large International Border with Bangladesh. Two years back, a 12-year-old Rohingya refugee girl was kidnapped from Bangladesh and taken to Cachar district by some unknown miscreants. She was rescued by locals and sent to a children’s protection home later. According to police sources, there are several child marriages happening in rural areas. In the past, several people were arrested but it still exists among the financially weaker class.

Social activist and lawyer by profession, Tuhina Biswas said, “Child Marriage is common in some groups like tea garden labourers and the Muslim community. The financial condition of the girl’s family and also some religious beliefs play vital roles behind these cases in our area. Sometimes, the girl’s parents are being forced as well. Trafficking and child marriage are very close concepts. We have a red light area in the middle of Silchar town where sex workers of various ages live. Most of them are victims of trafficking, some of them are victims of child marriage as well. They are leading a pathetic life and there is no way out for them to go back to normal life. We need strong awareness among the society against child marriage and human trafficking.”

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