Cracking down on contract marriages of minor girls from poor families with rich Arabs for a short period of time, the Hyderabad Police on Saturday claimed to have busted a racket with the arrest of several people, including brokers, three ‘qazis’ who performed the illegal marriages and ‘introducers’ who facilitated the marriages.
Invoking the Preventive Detention Act, the South Zone Police arrested Mohammed Akbar of Hafeez Baba Nagar, the alleged kingpin of the contract marriage racket. “He was arranging contract marriages of innocent minor girls from poor families with Arabs by promising huge amounts to their families, and assuring that the girls would lead a life of luxury. The girls were never informed that the marriages were time-bound,” Deputy Commissioner V Satyanaryana said.
Akbar had a tie-up with three qazis who would perform the marriages secretly for a price although such marriages were declared illegal by the Waqf Board, and opposed by other clerics. Abdul Rasheed, Syed Salmand and Hafiz Mohammed Azmath, who were arrested, performed several contract marriages of minor girls with people aged more than 50, police said.
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Officials said that almost the entire network involved in the contract marriages was busted and several suspects were taken in for questioning. They may be arrested after proof of their involvement is gathered, police said.
They said that at least five or six minor girls are married off to Arabs every week in Hyderabad. Most of the grooms are aged over 50 while the girls are under 17. The minimum amount paid to the parents of the girls is Rs 80,000 and can go up to Rs 2 lakh depending on the number of days the marriage lasts according to the contract.
Meanwhile, in the case relating to a 23-year-old who was to be married to a Somali national Saturday night, police arrested a broker named Wahab Ahmed, and ‘introducers’ Shabana Begum and Shahinusa Sultana of Falaknuma area. “Wahab and the two women arranged this contract marriage and the woman was unaware of the terms and conditions of this time-bound marriage, and that Rs 80,000 was paid to her parents. The Somali was planning to go back to UAE where he works by the end of this month, leaving the woman here, as the ‘contract’ says the marriage would be null and void after two weeks,” an official said.