A special team of the Hyderabad Police has busted an Arab contract marriage racket that exploited young women, including minors. At least 20 people including eight sheikhs and four Muslim clerics have been arrested for allegedly running the ‘contract marriage’ network following a probe into rising number of such cases in the old city area.
The arrested Arab men belonging to Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar. The Hyderabad Police have identified 35 brokers as well who helped in sending young brides to Gulf countries on forged nikahnamas and marriage certificates. Three qazis (people who conduct the marriage) were arrested too.
“We busted the ‘contract marriage’ (short-term marriage) racket and foiled attempts by eight sheikhs from Arab, Oman and Qatar to marry local girls,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (South Zone) said. The officer also revealed the accused also planned to traffic at least 20 women and minor girls.
The police also arrested four lodge-owners and five brokers for facilitating the ‘contract marriage’. The arrests were made after a girl, who refused to marry a sheikh on the basis of age, approached police and said she was being forced into the marriage. The modus operandi of the agents was to lure minor girls from poor families with money, and then practically selling them off to foreigners with the help of priests who solemnise the marriages.
“There are people as part of an organised network who identify unmarried victim girls. They are promised a bright future (and) then duped,” Hyderabad Police Commissioner M Mahendar Reddy was quoted as saying by News 18. The accused have been booked under IPC Sections 420 (cheating and dishonesty), 370 (human trafficking and exploitation), rape and POCSO Act (Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences Act).
Similar ‘contract marriage’ racket was busted in August when Hyderabad Police arrested a 77-year-old Omani sheikh for buying a bride for a sum of Rs 5 lakh. A nexus between the brokers, sheikhs and Muslim priests was revealed during the probe.
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