Tribune News Service
Sirsa, January 30
A local school lecturer and RTI activist has blown the lid off the marriage of two minor girls by their parents. If that’s not bad enough, he said hundreds of girls from Sirsa villages close to Rajasthan were being married off at a tender age and blamed official apathy for it.
Kartar Singh alleged Manju and Monika, both 16 years old and Class XI students of Aarohi Public School, Nathusari Chopta, were married off forcibly by their parents in violation of the Child Marriage (Prohibition) Act.
While Manju was married off to a boy from Chuli Bagrian village of Fatehabad on November 21, 2014, Monika was married off to Rajesh of Dhangar village of Fatehabad on January 24. He said he came to know of Manju’s marriage and Monika’s impending nuptials on January 19 from Manju, but could not prevent the second marriage due to official apathy.
Showing the invitation card distributed by Monika’s family, Kartar Singh said he had shot off letters to Chief Secretary DS Dhesi, with copies marked to Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi and several others, to red-flag the issue.
“The marriage of these minor girls narrates two different stories. Monika doesn’t have a father and was a burden on her paternal and maternal uncles. Some months ago, she reported this problem to me through a classmate. Her custodian was contacted through a teacher and they were convinced that she not be married till the age of 18 and be allowed to continue her studies. The family hid the wedding arrangements from Monika and married her off to one Rajesh on January 24,” said Kartar Singh. He said the Gram Panchayat members attended the wedding.
He said Manju was forced to tie the knot on November 21 last year after her elder sister refused to marry a boy picked by her parents. “The family fixed Manju’s wedding on the day chosen for her elder sister’s marriage,” Kartar Singh added.
He said Monika and Manju’s was not an isolated case. “Girls between the ages of 13 and 17 are disposed of in the name of marriage. Families fear they may fall in love or get married to boys of other castes,” he said.
Sirsa SDM Paramjit Singh Chahal said no instance of child marriage was brought to the notice of the authorities. “Authorities take prompt action on complaints of child marriage and stop them with the help of the police whenever reported,” he said.
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