KOLKATA: In an incident that may highlight both progress and helplessness of Muslim women in
West Bengal, a 14-year-old Muslim girl student in West Bengal’s Malda district was hospitalised after being allegedly thrashed by the village headman and his family for protesting against child marriage of a girl whose reception the victim went to attend.
Beauty Khatun, a Class VIII student of Nibedita Girls High Secondary school, had gone to attend the reception of Sujal Sheikh at Nadabpara village under English Bazaar Police Station limits with her parents Maqbool Sheikh and Marjeena Bibi on Tuesday night.
“On attending the reception, I doubted that the bride, a resident of Buniyadpur in neighbouring Dakhshin Dinajpur district, was the same age as that of mine. Immediately, I protested that it was a crime to marry a minor girl and police would nab everyone if they came to know about it. The bridegroom’s family got tensed. This confirmed my doubts. At first, village headman Panchu Sheikh, who is a relative of the
bridegroom, intimidated me with verbal abuses and then he and his family members started beating me up. I stood for what I believe in. My parents came to save me but were also beaten up. Finally, locals intervened and saved us,” victim Beauty Khatun told Express over the phone.
Beauty’s parents have lodged a complaint against six alleged assailants including village headman Panchu Sheikh at the Women’s Police Station in the area.
“At a time when efforts are being made for preventing child marriage both by the government and the Muslim community, the village headman is himself supervising over a child marriage,” Beauty’s father
Maqbool, a vegetable vendor, told Express.
On the other hand, village headman Panchu Sheikh said that the family was uninvited. “Both the bride and bridegroom were adults. Maqbool’s family was not invited. Nevertheless, he came uninvited and abused the bridegroom’s family. When we protested, he attacked us,” he said.
Meanwhile, English Bazaar BDO has sought age proof of the bride and the bridegroom from the bridegroom’s father Akalu Sheikh. “We are investigating the case and looking into allegations of both the sides,” an official in English Bazaar Police Station said.