CHENNAI: At least 61 youngsters, including 51 juveniles, were rescued from five gold-making units in the heart of the city, on Friday. Preliminary investigation has revealed that they were bonded and child labourers, working in ‘pitiful conditions’. The rescue operation was conducted based on a tip-off given by members of an NGO.
“We raided more than 10 units located on the Wall Tax Road and rescued 61 boys. The youngest of them was 10 years old. They have all been sent to a home, and the supervisors of the units have been taken to the police station. All the boys are from West Bengal. The units have been closed,” said Additional Deputy Commissioner Megalina Iden.
A member of the NGO involved said the owners of these units had paid money in advance to parents of at least 30 of these boys, making them bonded labourers. It’s not clear how the others were paid. “All of them have Aadhaar, but we are yet to confirm its veracity. For instance, some boys aged 10-12 have cards that say they are 15-16 years old,” said Iden.
The boys said they were made to work 10am to 12 midnight on most days. “A small place within the unit housed them, where they worked, slept, cooked and ate. They were made to do different things, such as melting, polishing, and shaping gold,” said the NGO worker. “The hands of a few of these boys are ruptured and damaged, because they use acid to clean and polish gold.”
The boys have been taken to a home in Royapuram, where officials of the Departments of Industrial Safety and Health and Child Welfare Committee are conducting inquiries with them. Purasawalkam tahsildar D Raman reached the spot later in the evening. Cases can be made official only after the RDO finishes his inquiry and issues rescue certificate, said sources.The tahsildar and RDO were not available for comment.
51Of the 61 rescued, 51 were juveniles. The youngest boy rescued was 10 years old
61 youngsters rescued from five gold-making units in the heart of the city
Operation was conducted after a tip-off from an NGO
All the boys are from West Bengal, says Additional Deputy Commissioner Megalina Iden
Owners allegedly paid money in advance to their parents