Oman


Omani citizen held in India for marrying underage girls



Muscat: Police have pressed charges of punishment for wrongful confinement and rape besides charges under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act against an Omani citizen, arrested by the Karnataka police late Friday evening in the south Indian city of Hyderabad, a senior police official said.

Ten others, including mothers of the two girls, and two clerics who performed the marriages of the underage girls with the Omani citizen, were also arrested along with the accused who allegedly sexually assaulted one of the girls.

"The Omani has been taken into police custody for 14 days. He has been lodged in the Hyderabad jail. We have informed the authorities concerned," S. Sai Krishna, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in Hyderabad, told the Times of Oman over phone.

"So far, nobody has contacted us. For seeking a bail for the accused foreigner, the Omani government should initiate the procedures through its embassy in New Delhi," the ACP added.

According to the Indian police, the Omani national came to the city on a tourist visa on April 5 and was staying at Patel's Avenue on Road No. 11, Banjara Hills.

On April 9, the Omani married a 14-year-old girl, a resident of Talabkatta, allegedly with the help of agents.

The agents are alleged to have paid Rs60,000 (OMR382) to the victim's mother Rabiya Begum. However, the girl escaped from the Omani's custody. Despite that, the Omani remained adamant and started looking for another girl for a 'contract marriage'. With the help of agents he 'married' a 15-year-old girl, this time paying Rs80,000 (OMR510).

"He sexually assaulted the victim between April 15 and April 18 at his Banjara Hills residence," police said.

However, the second girl also escaped from the Omani's place and approached the Bhavani Nagar police with the help of her uncle.

Based on the information given by her, the Omani national and seven others were arrested, while five were named as accused for other offences. "The two clerics were arrested for performing the marriages," the police officials added.

The Indian police claimed that the Omani national had visited India on four occasions on a tourist visa. Prior to landing in Hyderabad, he had also visited Kerala. In Hyderabad, an agent took care of logistics, including arranging a house and other facilities for the Omani national. The police also recovered $2,725, OMR120 and Rs5,000 in cash and three mobile phones from his possession.

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