Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said that nearly 900 charge sheets have been filed in last month's crackdown against child marriages in the state.
While speaking at the ongoing budget session of the Assam Assembly, he said that out of 4,363 cases of child marriage since February 3, over one thousand people are still in custody.
"Till now in this mission against the child marriage in Assam, 90% percent of the cases will be convicted under POCSO Act. We have arrested many persons in connections with child marriage and so far many of them have been convicted. We will work for conviction because our government is serious about this social evil and by 2026, child marriage will be completely stopped in Assam," Mr Sarma asserted.
He added, "After we started the crackdown against child marriage in Assam, many sections of people criticised me and my government for taking a tough stand against the marriages. But we have acted according to law. There is a law called POCSO Act and our government has been acting according to the law which gives protection to children."
Addressing the Assembly during the session, Chief Minister Sarma stated, "A helpline number will be introduced where a victim of child marriage or those who are forcefully married by their parents can lodge a complaint to us through the helpline number. We have taken a long term process to stop child marriage by 2026."
He said, "The helpline number will generate awareness among the people. We have allocated Rs 200 crore for stopping child marriages in this budget. We will appoint special lawyers to fight against the cases. Series of measures will be taken against the social menace."
The Chief Minister on Monday said the government will act tough against cases of child marriage.
While addressing the house on the seventh day of the budget session, he stated that the government has earmarked a budget of Rs 200 crore with a target of making the state free of incidents of child marriage by the end of 2026.
Mr Sarma stated, "Our government will ensure that the husband of the girl who bears the burden of motherhood under the age of 14, will face jail term of 14 years."
He stressed that no one will be left out of the purview of the law and that anyone caught in the act of marrying off their wards below the legal age of marriage or forcing the girl to bear children before the age of 14 will face a jail term of 14 years.
While announcing the Assam budget on March 16, state finance minister Ajanta Neog said that Assam reported high rates of maternal and infant mortality due to cases of child marriage.