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Police raided a marriage ceremony in Sindh's Umerkot district late Monday night, foiling a bid to marry off a minor girl with a 33-year-old man.

A police team headed by Station House Officer (SHO) Vijay Khatri recovered the 11-year-old girl from the wedding ceremony in Umerkot's Bakhtawar Colony where she was due to marry Ahmed Arisar, a man thrice her age.

Police took the minor girl into custody and arrested the groom, while others present at the scene managed to flee.

The groom's mother, who belonged to Rantnor village of Thar, told the police that her family had "purchased the girl" by paying Rs130,000 to the girl's father, Qadir Bux.

"We are not aware of any law that prohibits underage marriage," she claimed.

Police on behalf of the state registered a First Information Report (FIR) under sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013 against eight people, including the fathers of both the minor girl and the groom, the nikah khawan Moulvi Qurban Ali Halepoto, and four other people of the Arisar community who had "brokered the deal".

SHO Khatri told Dawn that the girl will be produced in court and raids were being conducted to arrest the remaining accused.

Child marriage is a punishable offence in Sindh. According to the 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.