Guna child marriage: Women activists call on Maneka Gandhi to safeguard children's rights

Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) [India], Apr. 15 (ANI): Strongly condemning the incident where a Panchayat in Madhya Pradesh's Guna passed a diktat of marrying a five-year-old girl off to an eight-year-old boy, social activist Brinda Adige on Saturday called on the Union Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi to act in this matter to ensure that children's rights were safeguarded.

"I would like Maneka Gandhi to actually intervene and say that children cannot be sacrificed at the altar of the Panchayat. Whoever the Panchayat may be, it is important to protect the children, their rights have to be looked after, absolutely safeguarded and protected," Adige told ANI.

Adige also lashed out at the local Panchayat and the Local Municipal Council for maintaining silence on such a crucial issue and for passing such a verdict.

"What is the Panchayat doing? What is the local municipal council doing there? This is their responsibility. We can say they may be illiterate, they may not have information, but we know that a lot of funds go both from the central government as well as from the state to create awareness. So, where is that awareness?," she said.

Resonating similar sentiment, Muslim cleric Hina Zaheer said that by pronouncing such verdict, the Panchayat was misusing the law.

"This matter should have been investigated and proper punishment should have been given. It seems like they have some self interest and hence, they are forcing this marriage. This is cruelty against children and is a breach of law," she said.

Bringing to fore the regressive mindset still prevalent in rural India, a shocking diktat was given by Khiriyadangi Panchayat in Tarpur village here, where marriage of a five-year-old daughter of a villager was fixed with an eight-year-old boy.

The decision was made due to death of a calf by the girl's father Jagdish Banjara three years back.

Banjara had hit a calf with a stone while it was feeding in his field, due to which the calf died. Following this, he and his family were boycotted by the villagers.

He was also asked to take bath in the Ganges and distribute food in village.

According to the Panchayat, since the death of the calf nothing auspicious has happened in the village.

Due to this, the Panchayat now fixed Jagdish's five-year-old daughter's marriage with an eight-year-old boy as a mark of repentance.

Raising voice against the injustice, the girl's mother filed a complaint with SDM Neeraj Sharma.

The officials have already given a warning to the Panchayat to not go forward with such a thing but the Panchayat is adamant on doing it.

Earlier in the day, a team was sent to Tarpur village for investigating the incident of the Panchayat.

Guna ADM Nizam Khan has assured that strict action would be taken against the culprits.

"We are sending a probe team to this village, strict action will be taken against the culprits," Khan told ANI. (ANI)