Child rescued, but not rehabilitated

GURGAON: Nothing much has changed in the life of Usman (name changed), the eight-year-old kid who was rescued from a DLF-I house four months ago, where he was allegedly kept as a bonded labourer and tortured by his employers. Since his rescue, Usman has been spending time in a madrassa, near Sheetla Mata Mandir, as his widowed mother does not have the means to take care of him.

In January, Usman was rescued by a local NGO, Shakti Vahini. Subsequently, after his case was taken up by the National Commission for Protection of child Rights (NCPCR), the Gurgaon administration was instructed to provide immediate help to the child in the form of admission to a school and monetary help under the clause of the Bonded Labour Act. However, even after five months, Usman is yet to be rehabilitated.

The then deputy commissioner R K Kataria had announced he would provide support to the victim. On Wednesday, a TOI team traced Usman to a madrassa. Wearing a skull cap and striped green kurta, he looked weak. A relative had helped his mother to get him admitted here, so that he could get free food and lodging.

Usman greeted us and seemed happy to see his mother (who had accompanied us to the madrassa) after a long time. Noorjahan, who works as a daily wager, said, After that incident, I kept him with me for some time, but had to part with him as I cannot take him to the work site. I had placed him in the DLF house for the same reasons in the first place. I had thought that he would get a better life there.

Noorjahan added that she lives alone with her daughter (5) in Dhanwapur village and because of acute poverty she has been forced to stay away from her two sons, Talib (9) and Usman. Talib lives with the relative who had helped Usmaan get into the madrassa.

Noorjahan said she was neither approached by any person from the administration nor offered any kind of help. The NGO just gave me Rs 10,000, which I spent in paying debts and buying food, she claimed. Usmans life at the madrassa revolves around studying religious texts most of the time. Along with 10 other children, he gets up at 5 am and after offering namaaz, he studies the Koran.

When asked if he was happy there, Usman could not hold back his tears and started sobbing. I have written to the Child welfare committee to provide education to Usman. If that happens, I will try to keep him with me, Noorjahan said with tear-filled eyes. NCPCR member VK Tikoo said, Through some newspaper reports, I learnt that the administration has complied with two immediate reliefs: admission to a school and monetary help of Rs 20,000 to the child. On Thursday, NCPCR will ask the Gurgaon administration about the steps taken.

Usman had allegedly been kept as bonded labourer and was subjected to physical torture for the two months by a businessman and his family members. When he was rescued, the child bore injury marks on face and on the back. His hands were also swollen due to washing utensils in cold water. The police had registered a case against the family members husband, wife and their three children and booked them under several sections of the IPC, Juvenile Justice Act, and Bonded Labour System (abolition) Act.

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