Police forced to press serious charges against men eloping with their minor lovers

BHOPAL: In 2017, around 1,000 girls were ‘kidnapped’ from different parts of state by their lovers for getting married. Such cases formed a sizeable 12 per cent of the total 8,000 kidnappings in the state.

Tikamgarh district topped in ‘kidnapping-for-marriage’ incidents, accounting for 76 such cases and Sagar, with 65 cases stood second. Most of the victims were in the 16-18 years age-group.

But many of these kidnappings end up in marriages between the victim and the accused, thus giving birth to a peculiar problem.

Just sample this: A girl was ‘kidnapped’ in 2013 from Sagar and was subsequently got freed by the police. The ‘kidnapper’ was sent to jail but now the victim is running from pillar to post, with her two-year-old child, to secure the release of the ‘kidnapper’, who is her husband.

Sagar SP, Satyendra Shukla informed that the girl had eloped with her boyfriend and they were living together in Gujarat. Acting on a petition filed by the girl’s parents, the High Court ordered the police to recover her. That was duly done and both were presented before the court, which ordered that the kidnapper be sent to jail. As he is facing charges of rape and abduction under the IPC and has been booked under the POSCO Act too, he is unable to secure bail.

SP Tikamgarh, Kumar Pratik also admitted that the girls are willingly eloping with their boyfriends but the police have no choice but to charge the latter with abduction and rape.

Alok Vaghrecha, a High Court lawyer said that law says that in case of sexual relationship, the consent of minor is immaterial and the police are duty bound to register rape and abduction cases against their male partners.

He said that this problem will be better addressed by the Woman and Child Development Department and School Education Departments. “It is mainly the girl and her child or children who have to face the consequences of marriage and childbirth at a young age. The girls should be educated about the hazards of early pregnancy and marriage”, he said.

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