Childhood Rescued from Bondage

06/06/2005: Twenty Nine children, working in inhuman conditions at a zari unit in Delhi were released on 6th June 2005.

In a massive raid in an industrial unit in the congested Raghunagar, Dabri locality of West Delhi, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) under the leadership of Shri Kailash Satyarthi rescued 29 children working in exploitative conditions. This raid in coordination with police and other concerned authorities, was conducted on a complaint lodged by 8 year old Waib Ansari, who had managed to run away from the zari factory. Waib’s complained that the zari contractor gave him only one meal and used to beat him often.
 
BBA has been engaged in a drive against child labour and inhuman working conditions for last twenty five years. Most of the rescued children were trafficked from their villages in Sitamarhi district of Bihar. The rescued children aged between 7 to 12 years were forced to work from 9:00am in the morning till 3:30am in the night for as little as Rs. 40 per month. For several months they had not been outside the room where they were living and working. They were locked in 2 rooms, less than 25 sq ft without adequate food or medical attention. Most of children have developed skin allergies due to crowding and lack of medical attention.
 
“I have been working in zari industry for months now; we get up early and start working from 9 am to 3.30 am. We get food twice a day: rice, dal and potatoes. I was paid Rs 40 every month. I was not allowed to go anywhere”, says 8 year old Insaif. Akbar Ansari, 9 year old “Any time there was a small mistake while embroidering, the owner used to beat us mercilessly. Nearly a year ago, Sagir alias Mullahji (owner) had got me here, saying that I would be sent to school in Delhi. We were not given any new clothes on any of our festivals, like Id, neither were we allowed to do Namaz”
 
Thousands of children slog in sweatshops like the zari units in Delhi, mostly trafficked from Bihar and neighbouring states. Most parents are conned by traffickers who promise that the children would lead a better life with opportunities for education in the cities. At the most conservative estimate, there are around 50,000 children between the 5 and 12 years of age, who are bonded to the zari unit owners in Delhi alone. These children work from dawn to dusk, with little to look forward to, with no money and education.
 
Kailash Satyarthi, BBA Chairperson, says “The main culprits are the principal employers who should be tracked and convicted for the illegal use of underage children, in this case as well as in the recent Mumbai raid. It is the responsibility of the government to provide for the rehabilitation and education of these children”.