The Telangana South Zone police arrested 20 men including five Omani and three Qatari nationals, three Qazis including a chief Qazi from Mumbai, five brokers and four hotel owners in connection with child marriages to Arab nationals.
Previously in August we had reported about the marriage racket in Hyderabad where affluent men from the middle east were targeting young girls for marriage. These sheikhs, touts paid plenty of money and bought these young girls, married them off to men older than them and sexually abused them and then gave them talaq. Girls as young as 10 were sold for a meagre Rs 5000. A woman in the city alleged that her 16-year-old daughter was married off to a 65-year-old Omani national four months ago.
What’s horrifying is that the Talaq nama and the nikah nama were read on the same day. According to an expose conducted by Republic World, the #nikahforsex racket came to light.
Telangana has a very complicated mesh of flesh trade brokers and they are affluent too. Needless to say, the brokers get away with anything they do. But following the hue and cry raised after the expose was conducted, the Hyderabad police grew alert and through investigation found out how the roots of this racket ran deep within the city and reached all the way to the middle east countries.
In August, the arrest of the fake Omani Sheikh blew the whole racket’s cover. Hyderabad Police Commissioner Mahender Reddy said that as many as 15 brokers from Gulf countries have been identified who have were involved in fixing matches of young local girls with men much older than them.
On Wednesday, the police named Al Mayahi Habib Ali, Al Salehi Talib Humeid, Al Ubaidani Juma, Al Salehi Nasser Khalif Hamed and Al Qasini Hassan of Oman and Omer Mohammed Seraj, Hamid Jabir and Safeldin Mohammed of Qatar and Farid Ahmad Khan, chief Qazi from Mumbai as men who were arrested.
Two of the sheikhs arrested recently married two young girls on contract basis, say the police. The two minor girls have been rescued, they said. Preliminary investigation has revealed that through the contract marriages, these people planned to traffic at least 20 women and minor girls, the senior police officer said.
Hyderabad has been a hub of contract marriages for quite some time. Last year, there was a much publicised case of young 20-year-old from Azampura, who got married to an Omani, he had physical relations with her and then abandoned her. She filed a complaint against her husband for conducting a contract marriage. She was among the 1,112 women who had previously filed a complaint against this horrendous scam. In contract marriages over Rs 2 lakh is believed to be exchanged as selling price. The other downfall of this scam is that families end up disowning these girls and they end up leading a miserable life.
Awareness has been created in the older areas of the city and in August when the Omani case came to light Hyderabad district child protection officer Imtyaz Rahim had said that the number of 'contract marriages' in old city area had come down compared to the past few years.
"A change is visible...but in certain pockets of the old city, such marriages are still reported because the mediators/brokers lure poor families in performing such marriages by conniving with qazis after offering money (taken from the elderly grooms) to the bride's family," he said.
Clearly, the racket was still bustling as ever, albeit, under different names. The uncovering of this racket has led to a lot of criticism within the Muslim community as well. Now stringent measures are being called for the prevention of child marriages. These marriages were performed with fabricated documents and in some cases, the agents fixed the alliances and foreigners purchased 'brides' for sexual exploitation. So now Qazis and madrassas are being instructed to conduct stringent checks to see the age of the bride as well as her husband and verify it as well. Anyone found botching these figures or conducting these illegal marriages will have their licence revoked.