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12-year-old ‘sold off twice for marriage’ in Uttarakhand rescued, is ‘two months pregnant’

Girl's mother allegedly sold her off twice in 6 months for Rs 10,000 each. Police have arrested mother and alleged second husband, while the minor is currently lodged at a shelter home.

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New Delhi: A 12-year-old girl was allegedly sold and married off by her mother to two men separately for Rs 10,000 each in a span of six months in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district, and is now two months pregnant.

The Uttarakhand Police have arrested two people — the “second husband” and the mother — in connection with the case so far. While the man, a vegetable vendor, was arrested on 18 June, the mother was held Monday. The minor is currently lodged at a shelter home, the police said.

According to police sources, the matter came to light after a complaint was filed by local Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) officials, following which an FIR under relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was lodged on 30 May. Both the men the girl was allegedly married off to are in their mid-30s.

The 12-year-old, who never went to school, has eight siblings, including seven girls. All her elder sisters are married. Her mother, who is married for the second time, and her stepfather are daily wage labourers, sources said.

“The mother wanted to get rid of the girl and marry her off. She also got money for the marriage,” claimed a source in the Uttarakhand Police, adding that the girl “was raped multiple times by both the men she was married to.”

Also Read: 8 Raped, bitten & beaten up — Bus conductor ‘with a record’ held for assault on Rajasthan 4-yr-old

‘Neighbours alerted police’

Sources in the Uttarakhand Police claimed that neighbours had alerted the local cops after they noticed that the minor girl had been living in the vendor’s house for more than a month. Medical examination revealed that the minor was two months pregnant, the police said.

Pithoragarh Superintendent of Police (SP) Lokeshwar Singh told ThePrint that the minor was handed over to the Child Welfare Committee and is currently lodged at a shelter home in the hill state. A DNA test will be done to ascertain the identity of the biological father, the Pithoragarh SP said.

“In her statement given (to a magistrate) under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the girl named her mother, a woman broker, and the two men who married her. Though she hasn’t named her stepfather, we suspect his involvement as well, and are collecting evidence. Investigation is on,” Singh said.

The police claimed that the girl had first been married off in December 2021, but she returned home as the man would thrash her regularly and abuse her. “A woman brokered the deal and took commission from the man whom she was married to. The mother was paid Rs 10,000,” a source said.

The second marriage allegedly took place in May this year and was brokered by another woman, who is also an accused in the case. Efforts are being made to track the first man, the police said, adding that he had relocated after the girl fled his house.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: Majority of Indian schools don’t have means to prevent, combat child sexual abuse, survey finds

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