Madhya Pradesh police on Friday said a wrestling coach from Haryana’s Rohtak district had abducted a minor female wrestler from Bhopal and married her by changing her religion in Rohtak.
Police said coach Naveen Nara, a resident of Rohtak, was already married, and had changed his religion to marry the minor (16), who is a Muslim.
“Naveen misused the recent judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, according to which a minor Muslim girl can enter into a valid marriage upon reaching the age of 15 years, as per the applicable personal laws of Islam, to save her from criminal acts,” the lawmaker said. 1. The court also held that the marriage did not violate the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Riyaz Iqbal said, “The girl’s father informed us that they met Naveen at a wrestling event in Rohtak in July. Naveen started convincing him to send his daughter to Rohtak for training. Naveen also came to Bhopal to meet the girl in August, but the family he saw the behavior as objectionable and did not entertain it.
He added that the girl’s family had filed a complaint at the Shyamala police station on November 9, alleging that Naveen had abducted their daughter. One case was registered.
“During the investigation, the police reached Jhajjar while tracking the car used in the crimes and also visited Naveen’s house at Charkhidadri in Haryana. But they did not find her. Then the police traced the girl’s location to Rohta. Meanwhile, Naveen married the girl by accepting Islam , as he was already married and the girl was a minor. Naveen filed a PIL in the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking protection from her parents. However, the court handed the girl over to the Bhopal police,” the DCP said.
Shyamla Hills police station in-charge Umesh Yadav said, “The girl referred to the Supreme Court’s judgment of October 28, 2022, which held that the marriage of a Muslim girl who had reached the age of puberty would not be void under Section 12 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, to validate their marriage. The CCTV footage before the court showed that he had abducted the Bhopal girl. The court handed over the girl to us on December 9.”
Amidst all this, Nara managed to evade the police. A senior police officer said that the girl who lived with him in Rohtak was found but not arrested because of the PIL filed in the High Court. “On the day of the hearing. the girl came to the court and we brought her back,” said the officer.
The officer mentioned above said that the girl was not ready to go to her parents’ house and repeatedly said that she married Nara of her own free will. “After much counselling, we released the girl to her parents on Wednesday. On Friday, the girl recorded her statement before the court, reiterating that she was not abducted,” the officer said. Yadav said Nara had brainwashed the girl.
The state police has booked Naveen Nara for abducting a minor. “We are legally examining whether sections of POCSO can be applied in this case,” said DCP Iqbal.