After MiD DAY’s shocking expose on a sham marriage racket thriving in the heart of the city, the police have ordered a high-level probe to get to the bottom of the murky business.
Meanwhile, Qazi Mohmmad Zakaria Oamar, the man who performs the sham marriages, abandoned his office in the Do Tanki area in Nagpada and went underground after the story was published.
Joint Commissioner of Police Himanshu Roy said, “First of all, congratulations to MiD DAY for such good work. We have taken serious note of this expose, taking into account its ramifications wherein young girls from poor families are forced into this network. Soon after reading the article, I informed the team, which has already begun the work on it.”
In course of the month-long investigations that culminated in the expose, MiD DAY delved into a dark world where girls as young as 15 are sold to rich Arabs for just a few days to be their ‘wives,’ and qazis perform sham marriages to make a quick buck (‘Arabs buy ‘wives’ and dump them in few weeks,’ December 28).
Following the report, teams of officials from VP Road and Nagpada police stations went to pick up Zakaria several times in course of the day. But Zakaria remained untraceable.
“The locals and shop owners in the neighbourhood have told us that the qazi, who usually works on Fridays, did not open his office all morning,” said Senior Police Inspector Rajendra Chavan of VP Road police station.
Police inspector M Inamdar of Nagpada police station, who has been put on Zakaria’s trail, said, “Some of Zakaria’s family friends told us that he will report to the police station immediately after he comes back, and we are still waiting for it.” Inquiries have revealed that Zakaria has been detained in the past for similar offences.
Surprisingly, no efforts have been made to locate Sameena, the pimp who had unwittingly made shocking revelations about the systematic manner in which she has been supplying minor girls to Arabs. In one of her conversations with undercover MiD DAY correspondents, Sameena had provided details about a recent ‘marriage’ that took place between a 15-year-old girl from Hyderabad and an elderly Arab national, for a price of Rs 1 lakh. Sameena had also provided elaborate details about how she hid several minors at Bawa Gulli in Dongri. Additional Commissioner of Police Krishna Prakash said he would look into the matter.
Saeed Noorie, chairman of Raza Academy, said, “The qazis have made this a business. They perform nikaah and also give divorces on the spot. I will do something against these qazis to better our community.”
Meanwhile, legal experts informed MiD DAY that the cops should investigate the racket and work towards applying the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act.
‘The fact that qazis are acting as brokers itself is illegal’
It is completely against Islamic law. Most Indian Muslim sects, with the exception of the Shias, prohibit mutah marriages. There too, it is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. If you are away from home for a long duration, voyaging at sea or at war, then mutah marriages are advocated over keeping relations outside marriage. But the consent of the woman is also required. Under the Indian Contract Act, minors cannot give consent. Moreover, undue influence or coercion on a party would nullify the contract. The fact that qazis are acting as brokers itself is illegal.
— IA Sayyed Expert on Islamic law
It is a clear violation of the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act. They should also be booked under the Foreigner’s Act. It is shocking that incidents like this take place in a city like Mumbai, especially when the nation is screaming for the protection of women and their rights.
—Wesley Menezes Criminal lawyer
It’s a classic case of prostitution, in the guise of Islam. Even Mohammedan Law doesn’t permit this. Qazis, pimps, and the Arabs ought to be brought to justice. Those involved can be booked for fraud, cheating, criminal breach of trust and selling human beings for prostitution.
— Pradeep Havnur Criminal lawyer