A five-year-old girl was on Saturday married off to a 22-year-old man at village Raman Shar in the outskirts of Dakhan Town, some 40 kilometres from Shikarpur, before police intervened to arrest key individuals involved, local police said.

According to an official, a special police party headed by SHO Khuda Bakhsh Panhwar raided the ceremony and succeeded in arresting the nikkah khwan, Molvi Kifayatullah Bhutto, 40, the 'groom', Habibullah Shar, and the father of the groom, Gul Meer. The police also took the five-year-old bride, the daughter of Zameer Shar, into custody along with her mother.

According to police sources, the marriage had been solemnised before police reached the place.

Police shifted the accused and the bride to the Dakhan Police Station and later handed them over to Gaheja Police for prosecution under the Early Child Marriages Restraint Act of 2013.

Gaheja Police registered a case against the groom, his parents and the parents of the girl on behalf of the state under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Child marriage is a punishable offence in Sindh. According to Child Marriages Restraint Act, a child marriage includes any marriage where one of the contracting parties is less than 18 years of age. Those found guilty of entering into, or facilitating, a child marriage can be sentenced to rigorous punishment for up to three years.

With additional reporting by Ubaidullah Shaikh.

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