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Congress standing in favour of child marriage: Assam CM defends scrapping of Muslim Marriage Registration Act

Sarma's jibe at Congress came as soon as Debabrata Saikia, the leader of Congress Legislature Party said in the Assam Assembly, that the government could have amended the paragraph that allowed child marriage instead of repealing the act.
Last Updated 26 February 2024, 13:09 IST

Guwahati: "Today Congress is standing in favour of child marriage," Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma lambasted on Monday while defending his cabinet's decision to scrap the Assam Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Act, 1935 as MLAs of the Opposition Congress and Badruddin Ajmal's AIUDF demanded a discussion on the decision in the state Assembly.

"We have decided to repeal the act as it has provision to allow marriage of girls and boys aged between five to eight years. You listen to it carefully; I will not allow child marriage to happen in Assam as long as Himanta Biswa Sarma is alive."

"The Congress and AIUDF are doing a business of child marriage. But I want to challenge you politically today that by 2026 (the next elections in Assam), we will shut this shop forever," Sarma said as he got agitated inside the state Assembly.

Sarma's jibe at Congress came as soon as Debabrata Saikia, the leader of Congress Legislature Party said that the government could have amended the paragraph that allowed child marriage instead of repealing the act.

Monday was the last day of the budget session of the state Assembly.

On Friday night, Sarma-led cabinet decided to scrap the act, following which he said it was a significant decision to eradicate child marriage in the state.

Sarma-led government launched a crackdown against child marriage last year and arrested nearly 4,000 people for their involvement in child marriage. Most of the arrested people belong to Bengali-speaking Muslim community, who were charged by BJP as "illegal migrants and a threat to indigenous communities".

Sarma had earlier said that child marriage was found more among the immigrant Muslims that have led to an increase in maternal and infant mortalities in the state.

Cabinet Minister Jayanta Mallabauary, however, while informing about the Cabinet's decision said that the "colonial era" act was repealed as a move towards CM Sarma's efforts to bring in UCC in Assam.

But the Opposition Congress and AIUDF alleged that the cabinet's decision had the motive to push BJP's polarisation politics by targeting the Muslims ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress and AIUDF MLAs sought to introduce an adjournment motion in the Assembly on Monday for a discussion on the cabinet's decision.

But the Speaker Biswajit Daimary rejected the pleas saying that the matter has not yet been introduced in the Assembly. This agitated the Opposition MLAs and Congress legislators staged a walk out from the House for 10 minutes.

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(Published 26 February 2024, 13:09 IST)

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