For Mohammad Irfan (name changed), a native of Madhubani in Bihar, life has not been kind in particular. Having lost his father at a tender age, Irfan, just eight years old, had to take on the mantle of his family's bread winner while his mother was busy raising his five siblings.
As there was no work at Madhubani, his uncle brought him to Delhi with the promise of a well-paying job. But in the national Capital, Irfan found himself working at a 'zari' factory for 16 hours every day, with very little compensation.
Irfan is among 26 others rescued by Delhi Police and Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) representatives on Monday from various garment factories in the city's Garhi area. These children had reportedly been trafficked from various parts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal on the promise of a better life for them and their families.
When HT visited the site, it was found that of the 50 children who were reported to have been working in these factories, only 27 were rescued. In the narrow bylanes of the area, 15 children claimed to have been "visiting their uncles".
"The middlemen and owners of these factories must have been tipped off because of which the youngest of the children had been told to go outside and roam around. We cannot rescue them and most of them were tutored to tell the police that they had come to visit their relatives," said Kailash Satyarthi, founder, BBA.
According to the police and members of BBA, the traffickers are mostly close relatives of the children and work as middlemen for the factory owners. Their poor families had hardly any reason to object or raise an alarm. The traffickers pay Rs. 3,000-Rs 4,000 as 'advance payment' for the children, promising further compensation later. After a year-long training, these kids are paid Rs. 1,000-Rs 1,500 as monthly wages.
"I was told that I had to complete embroidery work on at least 7-8 pieces per day, failing which money would be deducted from my salary. Then I was told that I had to undergo training without which my salary would not be given. I have been here for the past one year and I have got only R3,500 so far," said Manish Kumar (name changed) from West Bengal.
The Child Welfare Committee (CWC) has ordered rehabilitation of the rescued children at the Mukti Ashram near Burari. A case will be registered under the Juvenile Justice Act and Section 370 of the IPC for child trafficking.