On the eve of Akshaya Tritiya, the Madhya Pradesh government had proudly announced the results of its anti-child marriage efforts in the form of an impressive decline of 87 per cent in child marriages during the last decade.
While the decline did happen — the State brought down incidence of child marriage from 25 per cent in 2001 to 3.3 per cent in 2010 — reports from Rajgarh district tell a different story.
Sixty children of the Gujjar community were reportedly married on Akshaya Tritiya in the Pachore block of Rajgarh, a frontier district bordering Rajasthan.
The mass marriage programme was reported by a popular Hindi daily, along with photographs.
“Sixty children, aged 3 to 15, were married at a day-long function in Mathania village near Pachore on Friday,” reported the newspaper.
However, the authorities claim the event “couldn't have taken place.”
“We were very vigilant the whole week, and all marriages in the district were conducted strictly according to the law. This was done through age certificates and medical check-ups of the participants,” Rajgarh Collector M.B. Ojha told The Hindu.
“However, if some people still managed to evade the law, we will make sure they don't get away with this. We are probing the issue and will take action if the allegations are found to be true,” said Mr. Ojha.