HYDERABAD: Irfan, a 10-year-old with chicken pox marks all over his face, looks confused at the Secunderabad railway station. He used to earn `3,000 per month, working in extremely hazardous conditions in the city. Now, though rescued, he is not sure what is in store back home in Gaya district of Bihar. In Gaya, he was a primary school student, who was later forced to work in factories making bangles, owing to poverty.
Mohammad Laddan, another 18-year-old hailing from Gaya district, has a similar story. “I came here almost an year back to make a living,’’ he said, further adding, “I don’t have a father. I have a mother and a sister to feed.” His 12-year-old sister is attending school in Gaya. Asked how he managed to find work in a place like Hyderabad, he said that it was through word of mouth. “Every month, we were paid about `3,000 that was sent to our families. Our food and accommodation here are taken care of by our Seth,” he explained.
Irfan and Laddan are among 83 children who were being sent back home on the Secunderaabd-Patna Express train here on Thursday, after being rescued by labour department officials from bangle and clothes shops in the Old City.
What is the fate of these children? What awaits them at home? Assistant labour commissioner Shyam Sunder Jaju said most of the children were sold off by their parents at a very young age. “Some of the children here do not even know who their parents are,” he said.
“We are co-ordinating with the Bihar Women and Child Welfare Department officials to find them their homes,” he said. He further added that as many as 300 cases would be slapped against the employers for employing children under Section 3 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act and Sections 16, 17 and 18 of the Bonded Labor Abolition Act.
The children who were rescued had come from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan, Bangladesh and even Burma. But most are from Bihar.
2,000 Children yet to be rescued?
Labour department principal secretary RV Chandravadan said they suspect there could be about 2,000 children still employed in bangle and textile units in Hyderabad. “They were found during a cordon search by the police for arms, while they were working in bangle and cloth factories,” he added. According to him, as many as 750 children were rescued from bonded labour last year.