KOTA (RAJASTHAN): Authorities in Rajasthan's Hadoti region are extra vigilant during the lockdown to make sure child marriages taking place on Akshaya Tritiya, which falls on April 26, are prevented.
No report of child marriages has surfaced so far from Kota, Bundi, Jhalawar and Baran districts in the region.
Akshaya Tritiya, also known as Akha Teej, is believed to be an auspicious occasion when girls and boys are tied in nuptial knots in large numbers, particularly in the rural belt of Hadoti region.
According to a recent report by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the prevalence of child marriage is 89.4 per cent in rural areas of Rajasthan, while 10.6 per cent in urban areas of the state.
The authorities in the four districts initiate awareness programmes and set up control rooms every year to check child marriages.
"This year, the reports of possible child marriages around Akshaya Tritiya are zero so far as no child marriage is supposed to be taking place in the district due to strict enforcement of the lockdown," Deputy Director of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Bundi, Bhairu Prakesh Nagar said.
He said anganwadi and ASHA workers are already in the field to conduct surveys in connection with coronavirus and they have not reported any suspected child marriage in the area so far.
Forty-eight cases of child marriages were reported to the district control room in Bundi on Akshaya Tritiya last year, Nagar said.
Kota District Collector Om Kasera on Thursday directed officials to ensure that no child marriage takes place in the district.
Officials of an NGO -- Childline -- are divided over their opinion on child marriages taking place in the region.
Childline coordinator in Kota Alka Ajmera said, "We receive a lot of calls on child marriages from across the district around Akshaya Tritiya every year, but this year no call reporting about child marriage has been received so far due to the lockdown."
But the coordinator of Kota Railway Childline, Bhupendra Singh, said child marriages are likely to take place in rural areas in the usual manner as the entire government machinery is focused on fighting against COVID-19.
"Child marriages in Rajasthan are performed secretly in presence of a few people, and this time with the whole focus of the government machinery on COVID-19, it would be easier for the villagers to solemnise child marriages," Singh said.