Continuing their crackdown on the 'child bride' nexus, a special team of the Hyderabad police arrested Ali Abdullah Rifai, who had been absconding for a week.
Quoting sources, the Deccan Chronicle reported that he had gone into hiding after a case was registered against him in Chandrayangutta police station, until he was tracked down and arrested by the Falaknuma police on Monday, from an undisclosed location.
The Times of India reported that he was booked for performing child marriages with elderly foreign nationals in 2015, and managed to obtain a stay order from a court against his suspension by the State Minorities Department.
âWe have finally succeeded in tracing him and he has been detained for interrogation," an investigating official told ToI.
Last week, the Hyderabad police rescued 12 underaged girls and busted a major racket with the arrest of 20 accused, including eight Arabs -- five Omanis and three Qataris.
Marriages of minor girls from poor Muslim families to elderly Arabs is not new in Hyderabad. The well-organised racket involves middlemen in Hyderabad and those based in Gulf countries, who lure poor families with the promise to pull them out of poverty.
The racket continued to thrive with the connivance of the "qazis" who perform such marriages in violation of all rules.
As part of the crackdown, the police said that they have identified more than 35 brokers in Hyderabad alone, of which 25 were women.
Four lodge owners and five brokers and three Qazis were also arrested, including Chief Qazi of Mumbai, Farid Ahmed Khan, who was considered the kingpin.
âThe brokers are responsible for everything. From the reception at the Hyderabad airport to transportation, accommodation, identifying girls, convincing parents, interview between the girl and the Sheikh, coordination with Qazis, making sure that all forged documents are ready, and then sending the girl to her âhusbandâ,â Hyderabad Police Commissioner M Mahender Reddy told mediapersons earlier.
"There is a massive network, and at least Rs 5 lakh to 10 lakh changes hands at each such instance," he added.