Officials of Childline, social welfare and revenue departments and police saved a 15-year-old prospective child bride by stopping her marriage with a 31-year-old postgraduate who also has a degree in law, at Podhuvakudi near here on Saturday night.

The marriage was scheduled for Sunday morning at the girl’s house at the village, when the officials – Childline counsellor S. Kanagaraj, social welfare department official Balusamy, village administrative officer Chinna Kuppusamy and Sub-Inspector of Police from Emaneswaram police station Balusamy – stopped the marriage.

After a caller alerted them through Childline 1098, the officials visited the village on Saturday evening and stopped the marriage after heated arguments with the groom’s father, Muthusamy, who belonged to the AIADMK.

Mr. Kanagaraj said the two houses in the village had been decked up for the wedding. The girl had gone to Paramakudi with her mother for bridal make-up, and the groom had gone into hiding on learning about the visit of the officials.

The girl, who had passed SSLC, is set to join Plus One on Monday. She was to be married to M. Rajkumar (31) of the same village. The marriage invitation stated that Rajkumar had completed M.A., B.L, and was working in a foreign country. He refused to pick up the phone and could not be met till the officials left the village late on Saturday evening, Mr. Kanagaraj added.

Muthusamy refused to budge and argued with the officials, when they wanted him to stop the marriage. He asked the officials why they targeted their family when many such marriages were taking place in the surrounding villages at every ‘muhurtham’. The officials, however, made it clear that they would be forced to initiate legal action if they conducted the illegal marriage.

Finally they gave a written undertaking that they would conduct the marriage only after the girl attained the age of 18 years.

Whether the girl was forced into the marriage could not be ascertained as she was not allowed to talk to the officials, Mr. Kanagaraj said.

The girl’s father was working abroad, he said, adding the Childline, in cooperation with the social welfare department, would help the girl continue her education.

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