The BJP authorities says the legislation allowed baby marriages, however Muslim leaders allege the transfer is aimed toward polarising voters forward of election.

The Indian state of Assam, which has a big Muslim inhabitants, has repealed a British-era legislation on Muslim marriage and divorce, prompting anger among the many minority group whose leaders say the plan is an try to polarise voters on spiritual traces forward of the nationwide election.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma wrote on X on Saturday that the state has repealed the Assam Muslim Marriages and Divorces Registration Act that was enacted near 9 many years in the past.

“This act contained provisions permitting marriage registration even when the bride and groom had not reached the authorized ages of 18 and 21, as required by legislation. This transfer marks one other vital step in direction of prohibiting baby marriages in Assam,” he wrote.

The laws, enacted in 1935, laid down the authorized course of in step with the Muslim private legislation. After a 2010 modification, it made the registration of Muslim marriages and divorces obligatory within the state, whereas registration was voluntary earlier than.

Authorities within the state, which is ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Social gathering (BJP), had known as the legislation “outdated” and alleged it allowed baby marriages.

The state authorities’s crackdown on child marriages, which began final 12 months, has included a number of thousand arrests underneath the Safety of Youngsters from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in a quest to “eradicate” baby marriages by 2026.

However representatives of the Muslim group within the state stated the crackdown was largely directed in opposition to them.

Assam, which has the best share of Muslims amongst Indian states at 34 %, has beforehand stated it needs to implement uniform civil legal guidelines for marriage, divorce, adoption and inheritance, because the northern state of Uttarakhand – additionally ruled by the BJP – did earlier this month.

Nationwide, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and different teams observe their very own legal guidelines and customs or a secular code for such issues. The BJP has promised a Uniform Civil Code.

Assam’s authorities has stated it intends to enact the identical legislation as Uttarakhand. The Reuters information company quoted Chief Minister Sarma as saying on Sunday the state is “not instantly” engaged in efforts to implement a unified code earlier than the overall election, due by Could.

Bengali-speaking Muslims comprise the majority of the Muslim inhabitants in Assam, and tensions usually rise between them and ethnic Assamese, who’re principally Hindu. Nationalist politicians say a large-scale migration from neighbouring Bangladesh altered the demographic of the northeastern state.

‘They need to polarise voters’

Assam’s determination on the Muslim marriage and divorce legislation prompted Muslim opposition leaders to accuse the BJP of making an attempt to make use of the colonial-era legislation as an election ploy.

“They need to polarise their voters by scary Muslims, which Muslims won’t let occur,” Badruddin Ajmal, a legislator from Assam who heads the All India United Democratic Entrance that primarily fights for Muslim causes, instructed reporters on Saturday.

“It’s a primary step in direction of bringing a Uniform Civil Code, however that is how the BJP authorities will come to an finish in Assam.”

Different opposition events additionally criticised the choice.

“Simply earlier than the election, the federal government is making an attempt to polarise the voters, depriving and discriminating in opposition to Muslims in some fields, like repealing the registration and divorce act, saying that it’s a pre-independence act of 1935,” stated Abdur Rashid Mandal of the principle opposition Indian Nationwide Congress social gathering.

Mandal dismissed assertions that the legislation permits for baby marriage, including that it was “the one mechanism to register the marriages of Muslims” within the state.

“There is no such thing as a different scope or establishment and additionally it is as per the structure of India. It’s the private legislation of the Muslims that may’t be repealed.”

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