Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Six-year-old among 36 child labourers rescued in Delhi

Six-year-old among 36 child labourers rescued in Delhi

Jahangirpuri, New Delhi: His face gives away the fear he's trying so hard to conceal. Six-year-old Sahil (name changed) struggles to even recall his parents name when officers from the task force ask him for more details on his family and domicile. It's been just three months since he was brought to Delhi, with the promise of getting two square meals and a place to stay.

He landed up in a bangle making unit where he laboured for 15 hours a day, taking breaks only for meals and sleeping in the same room that he worked in. He is the youngest of all the children rescued from bangle making units in West-Delhi's Jahangirpuri area. Four employers were arrested but the main culprits are still at large.

A total of 36 children under 14 years were rescued from these units.


Additional labour commissioner, Piyush Sharma said, "We will take action under child labour laws, under bonded labour system, juvenile justice care and under minimum wages act. We are going to the extent of sealing premises and arresting employer pending recovery. So message is loud and clear Delhi will not accept child labour."

This is the first raid conducted here after a 11-year-old child labourer died in July after he was brutally beaten.

Last month NDTV had highlighted the appalling conditions in which children were made to work in steel polishing units here.

Once again, these raids are proof that little has changed on the ground.

A 12-year-old we asked told us he worked at least 16 hours a day. He was paid Rs. 50 per week while another 10-year-old was paid Rs. 30 per week.

Another boy said he used to go to school in his village in Bihar but hasn't seen one here. All he longed to do was go home to his parents and family.

Working in dim light for an average of 12-16 hours a day, the lives of these children are in complete contrast to the sparkles and glitter they embellish bangles with in these illegal units. Many of the children we spoke to come from Bihar where their families have many mouths to feed and hardly any earning members.

Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson of NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan told NDTV, "In Delhi, we estimate at least half a million, that's five lakh children, are working in full time jobs. That means every sixth child is out of school and working somewhere. Many of these children are not from Delhi. They have been stolen or kidnapped and brought to Delhi. In fact there is a huge difference between government and NGO figures on the all India figures."

Government agencies put the total number of child labourers in the range of 50 lakh, whereas NGOs claim the number is in crores.

Just last week the Union cabinet cleared a proposal to put a complete ban on child labour, even proposing more stringent jail terms and fines.

But till that actually comes through, the challenge is to keep the children from returning to these illegal units, where their employers easily get bail even if they are arrested.

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