62 child workers rescued in Delhi

June 12th, 2008 - 9:26 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 11 (IANS) As many as 62 child workers were rescued and freed from forced labour as a voluntary organisation with police conducted raids on embroidery units here Wednesday, on the eve of the World Day Against Child Labour. The children, mostly from Motihari and Sitamarhi districts of Bihar, were rescued from zari (brocade) units in Ghonda Chowk area near Seelampur. The raid was conducted by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) along with Delhi Police personnel.

Nazir, one of the rescued children, said he was brought from Bihar to Delhi by an “uncle” who promised him and his parents that he would be educated and be able to earn some money after working for a few hours.

The reality, however, was far from what was promised.

“I had to work for 16 hours every day without any break. At the slightest mistake or any complaint of tiredness, the master would beat me,” said seven-year-old Nazir, signs of strains evident in his voice.

“As we had to sit continuously to do the embroidery work, my knees hurt so much that I can’t even stand. I wanted a way out of this hell. I am happy now and want to go home and study in a school,” he said.

Seelampur sub-divisional magistrate A.K. Sharma, who led the raid, said: “Upon speaking to the children, we realised that they worked from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and never received any wages for their work.”

“This clearly means they were bonded labour. Hence, they would be given release certificates under the Bonded Labour Act. The release certificate entitles them to a rehabilitation package of Rs.20,000. They can also avail government schemes like the Indira Awas Yojana on a priority basis. Most importantly, the children would be enrolled in the National Child Labour Project schools,” Sharma added.

BBA founder Kailash Satyarthi said: “The main reason to conduct a raid on the eve of the World Day Against Child Labour is to show that action is needed to end the menace. Conducting seminars and programmes on this day will not help.”

“If police officials, labour officials and civil society work together and pro-actively release children from exploitative situations, complete elimination of child labour is not only possible, but also attainable in the near future,” Satyarthi said.

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