The child labourers, aged between seven and 16 years, were rescued last week by the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of Rajasthan Police and Jaipur District Child Protection Unit Task Force. A sense of relief prevailed among the officials of Bihar Labour Resources Department and Social Welfare Department as the Barmer-Bikaner-Guwahati Express chugged into Patna Junction carrying the kids.
"This is an occasion of happiness that these children will be united with their families. The sad aspect of the problem is that out of poverty and negligence, parents themselves handover their children to others for work. We need to stop this," Bihar Labour Resources Minister Dulal Chandra Goswami told PTI.
He said the state government was formulating rehabilitation packages for the rescued children and called for a holistic solution of the problem. He also said five more children rescued in Maharashtra would be brought back in a couple of days. The 176 children brought back today were employed in bangle industry, stone polishing and embroidery work in Jaipur. Child labourers are preferred in such industries because their nimble finger are more suitable for fine work, and they have to be paid much less.
A majority of the rescued children were malnourished and had burns and cuts on their hands and fingers. "These children were kept in inhuman condition. They spent working 15 hours a day, were confined to a room and were fed two meals a day. As far as remuneration is concerned, they were given just Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 per month," said Suresh Kumar, state coordinator of Non-Government Organisation (NGO) Prayas, who had accompanied the children back home.