Syed Althaf Ali, a 61-year-old travel agency owner from Mumbai was arrested in Hyderabad when he tried to buy a 14-year-old girl for Rs 3 lakh from her family. The child’s mother, grandmother, and six others were also arrested on Sunday night from Balapur when they were about to close the deal. Locals had tipped off the police.
Balapur inspector B Bhaskar confirmed that Ali had divorced his wife about six years ago and was on the lookout for a new partner ever since. Akeel Ahmed, an auto driver from Balapur who was introduced to Ali by common friends found the minor and offered her to the pedophile.
Ali had met them earlier too but the exchange did not happen since her mother demanded Rs. 5 lakh for her child. Ali was ready to part with Rs. 3 lakhs only. Recently, the girl’s uncle met with an accident and her family decided to sell her to end their financial difficulties. The child’s father had abandoned the family a long time ago and her mother agreed to sell the girl for Rs 3 lakh.
On Sunday, Ali reached the house of Zareena Begum and was about to close the sale when the police arrested all the 9 accused: 2 men – Syed Altaf Ali, Akeel Ahmed; and 7 women – Zareena Begum, Shabana Begum, Shameem Sulthana, Nasreen Begum, Zahaida Begum, Arshia Begum and Chand Sultana. They were booked under IPC sections related to immoral trafficking of minors, abetment under the POCSO Act and procurement for the purpose of prostitution under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act.
Such immoral trade involving minor girls who are purchased by pedophiles is common in Muslim nations like Afghanistan. Citing financial hardships, children as young as 2 are bought and sold by their own parents. It seems that the same phenomenon is being replicated in Bharat. Last month too, there was a case from Mumbai where a 15-year-old Muslim girl gave birth at a leading hospital, and later her ‘husband’, mother and cleric who performed the ‘nikah’ were all booked.
However, it is also a disturbing truth that as per Sharia law which currently governs Muslim marriage, a Muslim girl can marry once she attains the age of puberty, and in the absence of evidence, puberty is assumed on completion of the age of fifteen years. Even our courts have upheld such marriages that are in direct contravention of prohibition of child marriage law.
The media tried to whitewash Ali’s crime by hinting that he was about to buy the minor since he was looking for someone to ‘take care of him’!