Dholpur— A deeply disturbing incident has recently come to light in the Maniyan area, exposing a case driven by sheer greed where an innocent 7-year-old girl was callously sold for a hefty sum of four and a half lakh rupees and forced into marriage with a man aged 38.
According to SP Manoj Kumar, the police received information on Tuesday, prompting them to conduct a raid on a house nestled amidst the fields in Virjapura village within the jurisdiction of the Maniyan police station.
It was during this operation that they discovered the young girl, adorned in bridal attire. When questioned by the police, the family initially claimed that she was a relative. However, upon persistent interrogation, they eventually confessed to having purchased the girl from a man named Sultan, a resident of Bichola, for the exorbitant amount i.e 4.5 lakh rupees.
The young girl, who had been married off to Bhupal Singh, a 38-year-old resident of Virjapura, on May 21st, was promptly taken into police protection.
Circle Officer Maniyan, Deepak Khandelwal disclosed that an ongoing investigation is underway to identify and apprehend five additional individuals involved in this abhorrent case of human trafficking.
Notably, when the police arrived at the house for the raid, they discovered the young girl engrossed in watching cartoons on a mobile device. It was a distressing sight for the officers to witness her in such circumstances, adorned with henna, anklets, and jewelry. The scene deeply moved even the hearts of the policemen present during the operation.
ASI Suresh Chand, the Child Welfare Officer at Maniya police station, has filed a comprehensive case involving charges of Human Trafficking, Child Marriage, and violations of the POCSO Act.
Initial investigations have exposed an intricate network engaged in secretive child marriages facilitated through illegal means.
The police are actively pursuing the investigation to uncover further details. During the preliminary inquiry, it was discovered that the family responsible for purchasing the young girl and arranging her marriage had relocated to the area following a prison term for a murder case in Madhya Pradesh.
Consequently, the police have registered a case against them, encompassing charges related to child marriage, human trafficking, and violations of the POCSO Act. Authorities are diligently working to ascertain the identities and roles of all individuals involved in this deplorable act.
Child marriage is a grave issue that persists in India, despite the existence of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. This act aims to eradicate child marriage by setting the minimum age for marriage at 18 for girls and 21 for boys. However, child marriage continues to rob children of their childhood and exposes them to various forms of violence, exploitation, and abuse. Additionally, it adversely affects their rights to education, health, and protection.
In 2021, India witnessed a total of 149,404 recorded crimes against children, averaging approximately 409 cases reported each day throughout the year. Among these crimes, there were 1,050 cases registered under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, victimizing 1,062 children.
Notably, Rajasthan accounted for approximately 5 percent of all registered crimes against children in the country, with 7,653 reported cases. In terms of the percentage share of total crimes against children, Rajasthan ranked sixth among all states and union territories in India in 2021.
Comparing the figures, there was a 16 percent increase in the total number of crimes against children in Rajasthan, rising from 6,580 cases in 2020. The number of child marriage victims also increased from 3 in 2020 to 11 in 2021.
This increase in Rajasthan aligns with the national average of a 34 percent rise in child marriage victims, reaching 792 cases in 2020. These statistics highlight the persistent issue of child marriage in India, and particularly in Rajasthan.
The Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) has undertaken a commendable endeavor in the fight against child trafficking, resulting in the rescue of more than 1,600 children and the apprehension of 337 alleged traffickers in collaboration with the Railway Protection Force (RPF) in Rajasthan over the past two years. This significant operation has been hailed as one of the most extensive initiatives worldwide aimed at combating child trafficking.
A comprehensive report titled "Railways: Making the Break in Trafficking" was unveiled during the prestigious 18th World Security Congress in Jaipur, held in February 2023. The report highlighted the crucial efforts being made to raise awareness about the pressing issue of child trafficking among individuals frequenting major railway stations. Passengers and vendors alike are actively encouraged to remain vigilant and promptly report any suspected instances of trafficking. By sensitizing and empowering these stakeholders, a collective front is being formed to tackle this grave social issue.