8 Arab Nationals Held Over Child Bride Racket in Hyderabad

Five Omani sheikhs, three Qataris and three qazis were among 20 people held in Hyderabad after police rescued 12 girls.


Five Omani sheikhs, three Qataris and three qazis were among the 20 people arrested in a move against an international child bride racket busted in Hyderabad on Sept. 20. Twelve minors were freed after the police action.

The police have identified more than 35 brokers in the city, including 25 women. The alleged kingpin of the racket, 63-year-old qazi Farid Ahmed Khan from Mumbai, is said to have brokered illegal contracts with forged nikahnamas at a cost of Rs 70,000 each.

The police crackdown started with a tip-off from a 16-year-old girl who was set up with a 50-year-old sheikh for marriage. The police then visited four lodges, which were a hub for human trafficking, leading to the arrest of five middlemen and four hotel owners. The accused are Al Mayahi Habib Ali Issa, Al Salhi Talib Humeid Ali, Al Ubaidani Juma Shinoon Sulaima, Al Salehi Nasser Khalifa Hamed and Al Qasimi Hassan Mazaaul Mohamed from Oman, and Omer Mohammed Seraj Abdal Rahman, Hamad Jabir O Al-Kuwari and Safeldin Mohamed Mohamednour Salih from Qatar. The Hyderabad Police got hold of the alleged kingpin, Farid Ahmed, through a joint operation with the Mumbai Police.

“Young minor girls from Hyderabad are taken to the Gulf nations after being ‘bought’, and are repeatedly sexually abused and exploited by several men, after a rich sheikh takes his ‘turn’ with her,” Police Commissioner M Mahender Reddy said to the media. “These girls, whose parents are lured on the pretext of their daughters getting married and leading a lavish lifestyle, end up getting raped by men who are more than twice their age, and in some cases, old enough to be their grandfathers.”

The old city part of Hyderabad has long been a hub for child brides for Arab men. Authorities started stricter vigil following the recent spate of child marriages that came to light.

Among the measures suggested are that a foreigner must bring a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from his country and that the age gap between the husband and the wife should not be more than 10 years. The police also said that that the foreigner must apply for written permission from the police with details of the bride one month before the wedding to enable official scrutiny of the documents. The marriage should be conducted in presence of the Minorities Welfare Department or Child Welfare officials.

“Strict action will be taken against any Qazis carrying out the marriage of any girl below 18,” Syed Omer Jaleel, special secretary, Minorities Welfare Department, told The News Minute. “Additionally, we also suggested that the wife should have access to India’s consular office in the foreign country, and report once every few months, at least during the first one year of the marriage.”

Jaleel added that they have drafted an ordinance after consulting the law department, and sent it to the Advocate General for clearance. They will then place it in front of the chief minister to take it forward.

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