Hyderabad, Sep 20: A massive racket that involved marrying off underage Indian girls from poor families to rich Arabs has been busted here with the arrest of 20 people, including eight men from Oman and Qatar and 12 Indians including qazis, police said on Wednesday.
Those arrested include the chief qazi of Mumbai, Farid Ahmed Khan. Four lodge owners and five "brokers" of Hyderabad have also been held.
Hyderabad Police Commissioner M. Mahender Reddy told reporters that the "Arab sheikhs" were marrying minor girls with the help of brokers, qazis and lodge owners. Of the Arabs arrested, five are Omani nationals and three Qatari.
The arrested foreigners have been identified as Al Mayahi Habib Ali Issa, Al Salhi Talib Humeid Ali, Al Ubaidani Juma Shinoon Sulaiman, Al Salehi Nasser Khalifa Hamed and Al Qasimi Hassan Mazaaul Mohammed of Oman and Omer Mohammed Seraj Abdal Rahman, Hamad Jabir O Al-Kuwari and Safeldin Mohamed Mohamednour Salih of Qatar.
Police said the arrests were made when the sheikhs aged between 50 and 60 were about to marry girls aged between 15 and 17 years at some lodges in the old city of Hyderabad.
The police commissioner said the police rescued 12 girls.
During the raid on a lodge, Oman national Ali Issa was caught while he was about to marry a 15-year-old girl with the assistance of his friends Humeid Ali and Shinoon Sulaiman.
Omani agents Khalifa Hamed and Mazaaul Mohammed were also taken into custody.
Two Qatari Sheikhs along with one agent were caught red handed when they were about to perform child marriage at a guest house.
Owners of four lodges were arrested for providing accommodation to sheikhs and abetting illegal activities.
The police identified 15 brokers from Gulf countries who were involved in fixing matches of young local girls with Sheiks.
The racket was busted during the investigation into a case registered last month in Falaknuma area of the old city.
Saeedunnisa had complained to the police that her husband with the help of some brokers 'sold' their 16-year-old daughter to a 70-year-old Omani national Ahmed Abdullah Amur Al Rahbi for Rs 5 lakh.
The police chief said efforts were on to rescue the girl and arrest the accused and bring them to Hyderabad.
The arrested local brokers include Ahmed, Saeedunnisa's brother Sikandar Khan and the latter's wife Ghousia Begum, who played a key role in performing the marriage.
Chief Qazi of Mumbai Farid Ahmed Khan has been identified as kingpin of the racket. Police said the qazi prepared forged nikahnama as if the marriage was performed at Mumbai. Assistant qazi of Mumbai Munawwar Ali, who helped chief qazi and qazi Habeeb Ali of Hyderabad, who performed the marriage of the minor girl, were also arrested.
Police were on the lookout for one more qazi of Hyderabad, Ali Abdullah Rafia.
The police identified 15 brokers from Oman and Qatar, who were helping sheikhs in trapping poor parents by offering them money. "After reaching the new country the women end up getting exploited at the hands of several others," police chief said while citing the statements of a few victims.
The police have also identified 35 local brokers including 25 women, who help sheikhs select the girls and perform the marriages with the connivance of qazis.
Police opened suspect sheets against 38 local brokers, four lodge owners and Qazis who are resorting to illegal activities.