Mumbai, January 25, 2006
Sixty-nine children working in an embroidery unit here were rescued by labour department officials and the police on Tuesday. Labour department officials confirmed that they had carried out a raid on the factory after receiving a tip-off.
At least 11 representatives of the embroidery unit have been arrested.
"At least 69 child labourers have been rescued. Also, we have arrested 11 people associated with the factory. First Information Report (FIR) has been lodged and action will be taken accordingly," said Ashwini Kakodar, Assistant Labour Commissioner.
While most of the children hailed from Bihar and Orissa, several of them were inhabitants of Mumbai itself.
India prohibits the employment of children under 14 years of age as per an Act introduced in 1948, and in 1986, it completely banned child labour in 17 industries considered hazardous.
It is lamentable that these ordinances notwithstanding, close to 11 million children are still working instead of going to school.
Parents of these children claim that they are forced to send their children to work because of grinding poverty.
"When I was 15, I also worked. We thought that if he would work, he would bring some money. He looks underage as he is not properly fed but he is not underage. Had he not worked to earn, he would have fallen prey to petty crimes," said Manorma, mother of a rescued child.
Millions of children work in dangerous conditions making firecrackers, hand-rolled cigarettes and glass, exposed to hazardous chemicals and open furnaces spewing toxic gases. Children in the carpet trade spend long hours bent over looms, ending up with poor eyesight and stiff fingers.
Human rights groups say many children have been working since the age of four or five, and by the time they reach adulthood, they may be irrevocably sick or deformed.
International agencies say there are too many holes in the laws on child labour and trafficking. (ANI)