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23 Feb 2017

Minor girl's marriage foiled

TT, Raiganj, Feb. 22: A minor girl from a village near here has informed her school headmistress about the parents' plan to marry her off, prompting the intervention of the district child welfare committee and police for the cancellation of the wedding.
The 17-year-old girl, a Class XI student of a girls' high school, met the headmistress yesterday and told her about the parents' plan.
"Initially, some of her classmates turned up in my chamber during school hours. They told me that the girl didn't want to get married but her parents were about to finalise her wedding with a youth from Kaliaganj. I then called the girl to my office," the headmistress said.
The girl told the headmistress that her father had gone to Kaliaganj to fix the marriage.
"The girl said she wanted to pass the higher secondary exam and join a nursing course. She wants to stand on her own feet and have requested her parents many times not to fix her marriage right now. I asked her to go home and assured that I would take all necessary steps," the headmistress said.
The headmistress called up members of the child welfare committee of North Dinajpur district and Raiganj police. The committee members and the police reached the girl's home yesterday evening. She was with her mother at home and her father had not returned from Kaliaganj.
"Her mother pleaded ignorance and said they had no idea that it was illegal to marry off a minor girl. We took a written undertaking from her that the parents would not force her to get married and she should be allowed to decide on her future on her own. The mother also said the marriage would be cancelled," a source in the committee said.
The girl is, however, still worried. "After Madhyamik, I have been giving private tuitions to bear by educational expenses. I have also been assisted by the school authorities in different ways. I could somehow force my parents to call off the marriage. But I am still apprehensive that they might secretly fix my marriage and force me to accept their decision," she said.
The committee members said they would keep a constant vigil on the girl and her family. "Since the girl has apprehensions, we have decided to keep in touch with her and her family on a regular basis so that her parents do not take any such decision again," Asim Roy, the chairman of the committee, said.
Ayesha Rani A, the district magistrate of North Dinajpur, said the girl should be appreciated for the initiative. "We have decided to hold awareness campaigns to discourage minor marriages at all schools in the district, said Ayesha.

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