Saturday 28 May 2022
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24 children rescued from sandal manufucturing units in east Delhi

In a raid conducted by a district task force that comprised the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of Seelampur, Delhi Police, Labour Department and members of the NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, 24 children have been rescued from 7 sandal manufacturing units in New Seelampur, Delhi.

The rescue operation was conducted on the complaint of BBA. Out of the rescued children, 12 are girls and the rest are boys. Most of the children hailed from districts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and were forced to work for 13 hours a day in the units. The rescued children were between 6 and 16 years of age. they later revealed that they worked under extreme, deplorable conditions.

236219315At around 12 pm in the New Seelampur area, Delhi along with other government officials and members of BBA entered the premises of these slippers- and sandle-making units. Each of these buildings had more than 3 floors and dozens of agarbatti (incense sticks) were being produced. One could see children as young as 6-year-old filling in the material and making hundreds of incense sticks in hazardous conditions. The rooms had no fans in most of the floors. A few women were also present along with the children, who were taken to a safe area. They said that none of them got a single penny for their labour though the employer had promised them Rs 10 for a day’s work.

When asked, Rukhsana (name changed), a 9-year-old girl, said, “I am working here for a month. We do not get regular salaries. We work here for more than 9 hours. We never got any food. Sometimes there would be no electricity”. Overcoming her discomfiture, the girl spoke her mind finally.

Shahid (name changed), a 7-year-old boy, fumbled as he spoke: “A relative brought me here last month. My parents live in Patna, Bihar. I am working here for more than a month, but I haven’t received a single penny. The owner of the company promised to give me Rs 100 a week.”

Another boy Rishabh (name changed), a 6-year-old who was found inside a battery, revealed , “Our owner asked 10 of us to leave the unit immediately as they saw the entering the lane.”

There were also children who were in so much of trauma that they could not utter a word.

“The incense sticks are used in every religion; people consider it sacred. However, there are people who are unaware of the fact that these come out of the sweat and blood of young children who are exposed to harmful chemicals. We were shocked to see that there were no safety measures and fire extinguishers inside the units. It was nothing less than a death trap for these children,” said Kailash Satyarthi, founder of BBA.

During the rescue operation, 7 sandal-making units were sealed and all the employers arrested. As per the order of the Child Welfare Committee, all the children have been sent to Sanskar Ashram, a children’s home in Dilshad Garden.

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Surajit Dasgupta
Surajit Dasgupta
Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sirf News Surajit Dasgupta has been a science correspondent in The Statesman, senior editor in The Pioneer, special correspondent in Money Life, the first national affairs editor of Swarajya, executive editor of Hindusthan Samachar and desk head of MyNation

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