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Last Updated: Monday, 16 May, 2005, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Arrest in 'child marriage attack'
Shakuntala Verma
Ms Verma was shown photos of suspects in hospital in Indore
A man has been remanded in custody in India's central Madhya Pradesh state after a woman was attacked, allegedly for trying to stop child marriages.

Social worker Shakuntala Verma had one hand severed and the other badly wounded in last Tuesday's attack.

Suresh Kaluram Kalai was arrested on Sunday and remanded for three days on Monday by a district magistrate.

Police say Ms Verma was trying to stop child marriages, which are illegal but still practised in some rural areas.

Marriages down

Ms Verma was attacked with a sword in the village of Bhangarh, 270km (170 miles) west of the state capital, Bhopal, a day before Akha Teej, an auspicious Hindu day traditionally used in some areas for the marriages.

She reportedly identified Suresh Kaluram Kalai from photographs while receiving treatment in hospital in the city of Indore.

The suspect was remanded by a magistrate in the town of Sardarpur.

At the time of the attack, district police chief RN Borna told the AFP news agency it had been carried out by the brother of a would-be child bride.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Babulal Gaur said efforts had been made to end child marriages, but added: "It is not possible to stop it. Have we been able to end alcoholism or untouchability? If Gandhi could not succeed in this, how can Babulal Gaur?"

Child marriages - girls under 18 and boys under 21 - are illegal in India.

Authorities in many rural areas took extra steps to prevent marriages on Akha Teej.

The number of child marriages was down this year following the tough measures, Indian television reported.

Probe of 'child marriage attack'
11 May 05 |  South Asia
Move to stop Indian child marriages
14 May 02 |  South Asia
Child marriages targeted in India
24 Oct 01 |  South Asia

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