Horrifying human trafficking in the form of marriages to Arabs continue to plague the poverty-stricken Muslim community in Hyderabad's Old City. Hardly within a month of a shocking incident reported in this paper, two such incidents have come to fore.
The Andhra Pradesh police on Saturday night arrested Omani national Madasari Rashed Masaaod Rashed, a 61-year-old landlord from Ibri city, for allegedly marrying two minor Muslim girls from Hyderabad's Old City after he allegedly negotiated for a sum of Rs1.4 lakh. Police said Rashed had paid Rs60,000 to the parents of the first bride and Rs80,000 for the second bride, besides payments to the brokers, qazis and others.
Rashed was picked up at a posh apartment complex in Banjara hills along with 11 others, including two fake qazis and the girls' parents, following a tip-off from a 'brides' who escaped his clutches.
While police have slapped charges of rape, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and Prohibition of Child Marriages Act on Rashed, the victims' parents have been booked under the Prohibition of Child Marriages Act. While two fake qazi's, three women brokers and middlemen were arrested, the kingpin of the racket, Habeeb, is absconding.
"The Omani national came to Hyderabad in first week of April as a medical tourist and approached four agents — Mohammed Jaffar Ali, Kareemunnisa Begum, Amena Begum and Mohammed Osman — for a young bride of below the age of 16 years and offered to pay as much as the girl's parents demanded," sub-inspector N Srisailam said
On interrogation, the police found that the qazi Mohammed Ghouse Mohiuddin who conducted the marriage of the minor girl at his home in Bilal Nagar on April 9 was paid Rs5,000. But the girl escaped when she was taken to Rashid's flat at Park Avenue apartment. So the Omani national wanted the broilers to fix another wedding which was done by the brokers gang and the second wedding was performed within one week by a fake qazi, (an employee at a local mosque) on April 15, says S Tripathi, police DCP of south zone.
Mohiuddin maintained his innocence, saying that the girl's parents as Habeeb showed the age of the first girl as 19 in the documents given to him.
The scandal of sham Arab weddings was exposed by Air India air hostess Amritha Ahluwalia way back in nineties when she rescued 12-year-old Ameena Begum wedded to a 60-year-old Sheikh on the Hyderabad-Mumbai flight and onward journey to Dubai.Thereafter, the Hyderabad city police set up a separate unit to monitor the activities of these ring leaders including — qazis, brothers, hotel and guest house owners — who spotted poor families with young brides and also the aged foreign nationals.
Initially, mostly oil rich Arab sheikhs were the suspects. But nowadays even students from Nigeria, Oman and other African countries engaged in such 'weddings'. The young brides were also often exploited to smuggle drugs and gold as well. "We have cracked at least 10 to 15 such student weddings," the Humayunnagar police claim.