Mumbai: Over 100 child labourers rescued and sent home

Most employed in small-scale jari factories, these children are lured by agents who say they will get good jobs for them

On Friday as the country was learning about the Nobel Peace prize awarded to Kailash Satyarthi for his work for child rights, especially child labour, more than 100 kids rescued from child labour over the past few months were sent back to their hometowns.

Some of the rescued children with Farida Lambey of the NGO Pratham. Lambey commended the work by the Labour department and JAPU of rescuing and rehabilitating these kids in the city
Some of the rescued children with Farida Lambey of the NGO Pratham. Lambey commended the work by the Labour department and JAPU of rescuing and rehabilitating these kids in the city

Almost 60 per cent of these were boys working in small-scale jari factories, and originally from Bihar. What could make Satyarthi proud is that a special unit from Bihar, with of members from the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), the Labour Department, and the police was in Mumbai to safely ferry these kids to their hometowns.

“Most of these children are lured with money by agents, who pretend to get well paying jobs for them and traffic them to either Mumbai or Delhi. These kids end up working in jari or bag-making factories and get paid according to the hours they put in and their skills,” said Vijaya Murthy, chairperson of CWC in Mumbai. In the past one year, more than 635 children have been rescued from the city by NGO Pratham, along with CWC, the labour department and the Juvenile Aid Police Unit (JAPU).

Earlier this year, close to 100 girls were rescued from the docks at Sandhurst Road, where they were employed to clean fish. “Most of these girls were from the North East and we have successfully counselled them and handed them over to the CWC in their hometowns,” added Murthy.

Following this, the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) wrote to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the labour ministry, seeking stricter action against agents. “The Labour Department as well as the JAPU officials have been doing brilliant work in the city.

Hundreds of children have been rescued and rehabilitated in the past one year, thanks to the support of these teams,” said Farida Lambey, from the NGO Pratham. “With state elections so close, the city police was tied up. So for the first time, a special unit was sent from Bihar in order to take these kids back home,” said Lambey.

In Bihar, these children will be handed over to CWC members, who will do a background check on their families and keep a close eye to see if they will take care of the kids, or are likely to push them back to labour. “We need to put an end to child labour in our country and this is possible only if the problem is addressed at its roots, by catching and punishing the perpetrators,” said Lambey.

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