The Hyderabad Police have 20 people in connection with a marriage racket involving minor girls, IANS reported on Wednesday. While 11 – five Omani, three Qatari nationals and three qazis including Mumbai’s chief qazi Farid Ahmed Khan – were taken into custody for allegedly running the racket, four lodge owners and five brokers were picked up for helping them.

The Omani and Qatari sheikhs were allegedly marrying minor girls with the help of brokers, qazis and lodge owners, said Hyderabad Police Commissioner M Mahender Reddy. The qazi and other men also allegedly sexually assaulted the girls, said the police. “Charges under IPC Sections 420 (cheating and dishonest), 370 (exploitation) and rape and POCSO Act have been filed,” Reddy said.

Khan is accused of preparing forged nikahnama and marriage certificates. He reportedly earned several lakhs of rupees by colluding with brokers for facilitating such marriages. The police have identified 35 brokers, mostly women, News18 reported.

Deputy Commissioner of Police V Satyanarayana said the racket used to target poor families with minor girls. “They would promise the girls money besides taking them to Gulf countries. The Arab nationals would spend anywhere between Rs 3 and Rs 10 lakh. Most of the money would be taken by the brokers and qazis,” he added.

After the arrests, the police asked the Minority Welfare Department to publish guidelines for foreign nationals who wish to get married in Hyderabad.