A disturbing photo is circulating online showing a Indian elected official marrying a child believed to be 6 years old.
35-year-old, Ratan Lal Jat, is a member of the Gangrar village council in Rajasthan, West India and, on June 23, he apparently married a 6-year-old girl at a local temple in front of five witnesses. One of the witnesses is said to have been Jamuni Bai, known in the area for arranging child marriages for money.
While the picture is disturbing, Indian police believe the man married the girl to fulfill the requirements of Nata Pratha. The custom of Nata Pratha requires any married man wishing to have an affair with a married woman to “provide financial compensation.”
Jat reportedly married the child so that he would be legally married and allowed to have an affair with a married woman. The child’s family was apparently paid for the wedding and AOL reports the child will continue to live with her family.
Police say that they arrested Jat after pictures of the wedding started to spread on social media.
“We learned about the incident when the pictures of the wedding started circulating on social network apps,” Inspector Gyanendra Singh said, reported Metro. “We managed to get hold of the pictures and we sent a team to investigate the matter. We found Ratan Lal had married a minor to follow age-old customs. But for us it is a clear case of child marriage and we arrested Ratan Lal Jat under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006.”
Despite capturing the suspect, police say Jamuni Bai, the man allegedly responsible for arranging the marriage, is “at large” and that a search for all witnesses present for the wedding is underway.