Officials of the Labour department were in for a major embarrassment when locals obstructed them from “rescuing” child labourers at the ongoing Mango Mela at Nampally exhibition grounds on Monday. Quickly learning from their mistake, they shifted two other child labourers found at the nearby Summer Carnival to the Government children’s home at Saidabad, without giving any scope for a public outcry.
Based on information, the officials had first decided to raid the Summer Carnival at the Nampally exhibition grounds in the afternoon. On being informed about children at stalls in the Mango mela, they rushed in to record their statements. Upon finding three boys at the stalls, B Karthik(12), Mohammed Bablu(10) and Sairam(12), the officials decided to take them away to the govenment children’s home as per the rules. “The children here say they are related to the stall owners but we cannot believe that and leave them. So, we decided to take them away and let the parents come forward with proper documents to take back their boys,” said Shyam Sunder Reddy, assistant commissioner of Labour. Since one of the boys, B Karthik, had his school ID card with the name of his father, who is also the stall owner, the officials “let him go.”
But they decided to take away the other two boys when a few locals argued with them. “The boys are crying but the officials are not bothered! The boys had come today to see the circus. How can the officials take them away even if their parents are not around?” asked one of the locals.
Horticulture officials too confirmed that there were no child labourers at the mela. Dr Suhasini, joint director, Horticulture, said, “the information about child labourers here is wrong. I have never seen these children before. They have come to assist their parents since summer vacations are going on.”
Meanwhile, the officials soon moved to the nearby Summer Carnival, where they found two child labourers who also admitted that they have been working at the ice cream shop. The two, Mohammed Tahir and Mohammed Wasim Akram, both 13, were taken away without even officially recording their statements.