Pact to eliminate child labour

The Telegraph

Childhood lost: Child workers in Bhubaneswar on Monday. Picture by Ashwinee Pati

The civic body will collaborate with the labour and ESI department to eliminate child labour in the city in line with the state government’s guidelines.

The plan was made after the government had furnished action points for each department. The housing and urban development department subsequently asked all urban local bodies in the state to take action accordingly.

The department has also issued special measures for the municipal corporations of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.

The civic bodies, while issuing trade licences, will take into account that no business establishment engages children as part of their labour force.

Besides, the labour department will organise sensitisation and awareness campaigns against the employment of children for mayors, councillors, municipal commissioners and field functionaries to help them understand the importance of the initiative.

“We have issued orders with action points to municipalities and municipal corporations to undertake various programmes for elimination of child labour,” said a housing and urban development official.

Local authorities of the twin cities will also enhance the standard of living, health and nutrition of children in slums and ensure regular health check-ups, medical care, quality education, recreation, vocational training and quality of community life.

They will also ensure that schools provided free and compulsory education to all the rescued working children irrespective of their age.

Bhubaneswar mayor Ananta Narayan Jena said first they would have to check how many such children were engaged in work.

“We are already conducting various programmes to uplift the lifestyle of slum-dwellers. We are committed to eliminate child labour from the city,” he said.


Goes to work in snack unit, returns with mental illness

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“He developed illness, probably due to torture or harassment at workplace”

Knows not what happened: The boy from Usilampatti (centre), who developed mental illness at a snack unit in north India in an alleged case of bonded labour.   | Photo Credit: G_Moorthy

A 20-year-old youth, who was sent to work in a snack unit in Haryana few months back in an alleged case of bonded labour, has returned home after he developed mental illness, probably due to torture or harassment at workplace.

K. Rajamani, the boy’s father from Vilampatti near Usilampatti, said his son, who had passed Class 9, was working as a mechanic before he was sent to work at the snack unit.

“I worked as a driver for a person who runs snack unit and eatery selling idlis and dosas in Karnal in Haryana, close to Delhi. I had borrowed some money from him,” he said. He added that the person made an offer that he could repay the money by sending his son to work with him. “He also promised to pay my son a salary of around ₹ 4,000, which he never paid,” he said.

Around three weeks back, Rajamani was reportedly informed by the owner that his son had become mentally unwell and therefore he was sending him back. Rajamani said that his elder brother K. Thavamani travelled to Delhi and brought him back. “He was not conscious about his surroundings and a bit violent. He is not able to explain what happened to him although he tells occasionally that he was beaten up in the head,” Thavamani said.

Ironically, Thavamani said that his son who was sent to work in a snack company in Gujarat around eight years ago faced a similar fate. “He went insane. He has not recovered even now,” he said.

The youth has been admitted at Government Rajaji Hospital for treatment.

The family said they were planning to petition the Collector seeking action against the snack unit owner along with compensation and medical assistance for the youth.

A. Kathir, Executive Director of non-governmental organisation Evidence, which is assisting the family, said the police should register a case under Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act and adequate compensation be given to the family.

It’s a national shame that bonded labour still exists in India


The only way to reduce bonded labour is taking a preventative approach, by reducing the conditions that perpetrate bondage-like conditions by promoting decent work, and by removing possible elements of bondage and coercion in the worker-employer relationship
According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, India has the most slaves in the world. There are an estimated 46 million people enslaved worldwide with more than 18 million of them in India, the survey added.

According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, India has the most slaves in the world. There are an estimated 46 million people enslaved worldwide with more than 18 million of them in India, the survey added.(SHUTTERSTOCK/REPRESENTATIVEIMPAGE)

Last week, 25 bonded labourers, including children, were rescued from farmlands in Rajasthan’s Baran district. The rescued workers said they were lured from Madhya Pradesh with loans between Rs 500 to Rs 20,000 and the promise of work. But they were made to work on the fields without pay. Bonded and forced labour – where a person is made to work through the use of violence or intimidation or more subtle means such as accumulated debt – are some of the oldest forms of slavery in the world. According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, India has the most slaves in the world. There are an estimated 46 million people enslaved worldwide with more than 18 million of them in India, the survey added. Unfortunately, the Indian government cannot verify these figures. But the labour ministry has drawn up plans to identify, rescue and help bonded labourers by 2030.

In reply to a Lok Sabha question, minister of state (independent charge) for labour and employment Bandaru Dattatreya, said that the Centre has adopted a three-pronged strategy for the abolition of the bonded labour system: First, the Constitution prohibits forced labour. It enacted the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, which empowers executive magistrates to exercise powers of judicial magistrate of first or second class for trial of offences. Vigilance committees at the district and sub-divisional levels have been prescribed to identify and rehabilitate bonded labourers. A centrally-sponsored plan — Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labour — is under implementation since 1978 under which the Centre and states contribute Rs 10,000 each for cases of rehabilitation.

Unfortunately, despite these measures, India has such large numbers of bonded labourers, thanks to poor enforcement of the four-decade-old bonded labour law, its under-resourced police and judiciary, and deep societal and economic inequities that still exist. The only way to reduce bonded labour is taking a preventive approach, by reducing the conditions that perpetuate bondage-like conditions by promoting decent work, and by removing possible elements of bondage and coercion in the worker-employer relationship. It also involves inter-state coordination mechanisms for migrant workers, including workplace improvements and linking them to social security schemes. Above all, efforts must be made to create a database of bonded labourers. It is not an easy task but would be first step towards their liberation and rehabilitation.


Using apps and credit cards, the Odisha government is trying to save migrants from bonded labour

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Drought and dire poverty force villagers to take loans from labour agents, which they have to pay back by spending months working at brick kilns.
Using apps and credit cards, the Odisha government is trying to save migrants from bonded labour

An Indian migrant worker stack bricks on his head at a brick factory | Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

As tens of thousands of families in India’s eastern state of Odisha begin their autumn migration in search of work, the government is stepping up efforts to ensure their journey doesn’t end in slavery.

November sees families from rural Odisha leave their villages as part of a seasonal migration that lasts until the spring planting season.

Drought and dire poverty force men and women to take loans from labour agents in every village. They spend the next six months working – usually in brick kilns – to pay the debts back. Rights groups say this “debt bondage” is a form of slavery.

This year, however, the Odisha government has launched a raft of measures to protect workers – from an online app that allows easy registration of migrants to a 24/7 helpline, credit cards for safer loans and work contracts with brick kiln owners.

“There has been a steady flow of complaints and rescues of bonded labourers from Odisha over the years,” said BB Acharya, consultant to the inter-state migration cell, a part of the labour department looking after the rights of migrant workers. “This is by far the most comprehensive plan that is looking at both safe migration and providing more livelihood options.”

Campaigners estimate that over 100,000 labourers migrate from Odisha annually, the majority of them ending up in kilns where they cut, shape and bake clay-fired bricks, their wages deducted to pay off the loan.

Workers need to make almost 700,000 bricks to pay off a debt of Rs 20,000 over six to eight months.

“Prolonged droughts have created this mechanism of taking money in advance that eventually leads to bondage,” said Mary Surin of the charity Tata Trusts that is partnering with the government to map vulnerable workers.

The Odisha government has mapped 28,000 households of vulnerable migrants across nearly 300 villages in 11 migration- prone districts.

This year it launched the “shramik sahayata” (workers’ help) app allowing villagers to register online before migrating and has established helpdesk kiosks and a phoneline for migrants.

“We are setting up five helpdesks in destination states where labourers are going to spend six to eight months working,” said Odisha labour commissioner Sachin Ramchandra Jadhav. “Along with the toll free helpline that is already running, we hope to help workers at every step.”

The Odisha government has also helped to draw up direct contracts between workers and 100 kiln owners in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in an effort to cut out agents and end the practice of debt bondage.

“The exploitative middleman will slowly cease to exist,” Jadhav said. “We are looking at tying up with banks to pay workers directly using savings bank accounts and they can also avail advance money through labour credit cards.”

Missing minor found sodomised, 1 arrested

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The accused Vinod alias Pintu Thakor has been arrested under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act and other sections of the IPC

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A six-year-old boy who had gone missing on Saturday was found to have been sodomised by a 20-year-old man who lured him on the pretext of getting him a chocolate, Ranip Police said on Monday. The accused Vinod alias Pintu Thakor has been arrested under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act and other sections of the IPC.

Police said the boy’s father had lodged a missing complaint on Saturday. Acting on it, cops started the search for the minor. He was found near Sabarmati railway station yard. The victim has been sent to Civil Hospital and the accused was to be produced before the court.

Police said Thakor lured the six-year-old on the pretext of getting him a chocolate. He then took him to the Sabarmati railway station, where he beat the minor up and forced himself upon him. A case has been registered and further probe is onf cities.

‘Raped’ girl escorted to Koraput

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Cuttack: Government officials on Monday escorted back the alleged gang-rape survivor to Koraput from the SCB Medical College and Hospital here amid protest and tension.

Tension had prevailed outside the medicine department for a while when Congress leader and Koraput MLA Krushna Chandra Sangana, along with few of his supporters and members of the girl’s family from Kunduli, sat on a dharna, protesting against the authorities’ decision.

Sources said the medical board had discharged the girl but did not hand her over to her mother but to the Koraput district child protection officer, who brought her to the hospital on November 19.

The MLA had blocked the officer from taking the girl for nearly 30 minutes.

Around one-and-a-half platoons of police were deployed at the site.

“The protest was withdrawn after the girl’s mother and paternal aunt had been allowed to travel in the vehicle, in which the officer was escorting her back to Koraput,” Manglabag police station inspector-in-charge Arun Kumar Swain said.

Swain is also accompanying the victim along with the officer as escort.

“We discharged the girl as she had no physical problem, while the woman claiming to be her mother did not give consent for the required medical attention at the psychiatry department (adolescent and child care),” board convener Sriprasad Mohanty said.

“The girl will be presented tomorrow before the Koraput child welfare committee, as she is under its jurisdiction,” Koraput district child protection officer Rajashree Das said.

“The biological parents of the girl can only receive her from the committee,” Das said. The board handed over the girl to Das acting on the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act.

The girl, who had vomited blood after reportedly taking an overdose of iron tablets, was admitted at the hospital at around 3.30pm on October 19. She had since been given treatment and kept under observation in the ICU.

After the alleged gang-rape, the girl was accommodated by the committee. Blood was found in her vomit, following which she was immediately rushed to Saheed Lakshman Nayak Medical College Hospital, Jeypore. But as her condition worsened, she had to be to SCB.

The Class IX student of Kunduli was allegedly gang-raped by a group of security personnel on October 10 while she was returning from her school.

A case under sections 376 (D) and 377 of the IPC and Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act had been registered. But after about three weeks of the assault on the girl, the police, on the basis of doctors’ report, stated that she had not been raped.

West Bengal murder: Three-year-old girl raped and killed while attending nature’s call

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West Bengal rape and murder

The West Bengal police arrested a man on Sunday in the incident. (Representational photo)

The West Bengal police arrested a man on Sunday for allegedly raping and killing a 13-year-old girl in Bankura’s Lalbandh area.

The incident happened under the jurisdiction of Taldangra Police Station when the girl had gone out to answer nature’s call along with 10-year-old brother on Sunday morning, the police said. The accused, a 19-year-old and resident of the same area, confessed to his crime during interrogation, Bankura SP Sukhendu Hira said.

The man strangulated the girl to death with her dupatta after raping her, the SP said adding, the girl’s brother narrated the incident to the police. The man has been arrested under various sections of the IPC and POCSO Act, he said. The girl’s body has been sent for postmortem examination.