Child labour the modus operandi
If child labour is the ugly part of human society, then what has been happening in the twin cities in the past seven days shows the dirtier and more inhuman side of it. Three days into the country’s Republic celebrations, around 300 had their first taste independence when they were freed from bondage in various homes that had abused them and their age,
If child labour is the ugly part of human society, then what has been happening in the twin cities in the past seven days shows the dirtier and more inhuman side of it. Three days into the country’s Republic celebrations, around 300 had their first taste independence when they were freed from bondage in various homes that had abused them and their age, including in industries into bangles, leather amond others.
Most of the rescued children were in the 8-20 age-group. What’s common in the rescue operations carried in different localities by the exclusive SMILE wing of the city police was that they were children who were trafficked from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha and forced into manual labour in obscure areas of the Old City. They were housed almost captives in unhygienic conditions and denied of medical care.
One of the rescued children, Joginder, lamented that he wanted to go home but 'maalik' wouldn't let him. Another minor Sameer said that they were not allowed to rest or play between 9am and 10pm, which were their ‘office-hours.’ "The fear of punishment has rendered mental breakdown. CCTVs have been strategically placed to keep an eye on the children and to ensure they never sit idle," Hyderabad South Zone DCP V Satyanarayana said.
“When the children were rescued, we figured that the older children were paid Rs 2,000 per month while the younger lot were given food enough only for sustenance,” said Achyuta Rao, member of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.The police say illegal financiers were hand-in-glove with the mafia of brokers and bangle manufacturing unit owners. "We will book even the bangle shop owners responsible for engaging child labour," Satyanarayana said.
“Middlemen usually pay about Rs 20,000 to the parents and transport children from states like Odisha and Bihar by trains and trucks to the city outskirts. Some of the girl children have been either forced into begging or flesh trade. They usually escape the clutches of law by paying bribes to the concerned officials,” said Roseann from the International Justice Mission.
As per the 2011 Census, Andhra Pradesh has the dubious distinction of being the third largest employer of children in the country with the figure touching about 4.05 lakh. According to a 2014 report by the Bonded Labour Liberation Front, India has 65 million bonded child labourers and 300 million adult labourers living in various forms of modern slavery. While the Prevention of Child Labour Act was brought into force in 1986, its implementation has been lackadaisical. Punishment is non-existent as the violators go scot-free after shelling some money, alleges an officials.
The inhuman reality
The rescue operation which was a part of Operation SMILE is a month-long programme initiated by the Union Home Ministry on New Year’s Day, and was carried out by the CID. Labour and child welfare departments weren’t in the loop and were taken aback with the sudden influx of inmates, who were rescued by the teams.
Though the reports said that the children would be accommodated in different children’s homes, at the end of the day, except three girls all were sent to Don Bosco Navajeevan, Ramanthapur. Tharakan John, blogger of Don Bosco India, who witnessed the operation, rued, “From what transpired in front of me, it was evident that there was neither planning nor coordination, and absolutely no focus on the children. The cops had no plan of what to do with the children.”
He said that no plans or arrangements for the accommodation of children were in place “Officials were carrying out orders that were dished out over mobiles. But none of them were concerned about the immediate needs of the children,” he said. “A counsellor was standing there with a mask, as if the children would contaminate him.
So were at least five other volunteers who came to meet the children. At our insistence they removed the masks. Without genuine interest in the children, and sincere faith in the possibility of change, these efforts are bound to be doomed,” he quipped.