Assam to set up temporary jails amid crackdown on child marriages
The additional prison facilities are being set in the Goalpara and Cachar districts.
Authorities in Assam are setting up additional prison facilities for persons arrested as part of an ongoing crackdown on child marriages in the state, PTI reported on Wednesday.
Last month, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had announced that the police will file cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act against men who have married girls below 14 years of age, and under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act against those who married girls aged 14-18.
Hundreds of women in Assam have been protesting against arrest and other police action action against their family members.
Meanwhile, two additional prison facilities are being set in the Goalpara and Cachar districts to keep those arrested in custody. Some accused persons have already been moved to Goalpara, according to PTI.
“We have got the approval for setting up a temporary jail,” Cachar Superintendent of Police Nomal Mahatta said. “It will be established in a non-functional existing government premises near Silchar.”
The official said that the temporary jails will be used after the existing prisons run out of space.
In Goalpara, a transit camp for undocumented immigrants and persons declared as foreigners in the Matia area is being used to accommodate persons accused in child marriage-related cases.
On Wednesday, Sarma said that 2,580 people – 1,560 Muslims and 1,020 Hindus – have been arrested as part of the crackdown across Assam, The Print reported.
Some activists and Opposition leaders have alleged that the campaign against child marriage is a pretext to target Muslims. On Wednesday, Raijor Dal President Akhil Gogoi said: “In the name of the prevention of child marriage, Hitler rule of the government is not acceptable by any means. This is an attack on Muslims.”
However, he said that the party is opposed to child marriages, according to East Mojo.
Police data seen by Scroll shows that districts with high Muslim populations have seen more arrests than others. The districts of Biswanath, Barpeta, Baksa, Dhubri, Hojai, Bongaigaon, and Nagaon districts have all seen over 100 arrests each.