Policemen came to the eatery where he worked and those leaving after prayers at a mosque opposite it saw him every day but no one came to help 14-year-old Jameel Akhtar.
Chained for over a fortnight by his employer at an eatery in Paharganj, Akhtar could move only within a radius of one metre, with both his feet chained and locked.
“The owner made me work for more than 15 hours a day without any warm clothes even when it became very cold,” the boy cried after child activists, police and the labour department rescued him on Thursday.
His employer Sarfaraz Alam, who ran an eatery, has been arrested. The minor had been working for him for the last three months.
The owner had accused the minor of stealing money from his house and, as a punishment, had chained him.
Mohammad Sohrab, the boy's father from Bihar, said, “Last week somebody called me up saying that I should pay him money because of my son.”
“I was shocked because we had no clues about Jameel since last August. And here was someone talking about my son.”
The boy is from Sehjana Kaparanda in Katihar district (Bihar). His father said the person on the phone threatened to give my son to the police if he didn’t pay.
Sohrab said he later got to know that his son had been trafficked to Delhi by a fellow villager named Kazi Sattar.
“The local police had refused to lodge our complaint when my son went missing. I couldn't have traced him independently, so I left it to destiny till I got this call from Delhi,” he said.
Sohrab reached the Capital and with the help of a family acquaintance he contacted an NGO called Bachpan Bachao Andolan. He then lodged a complaint with the police and the task force on child labour on Wednesday.
Soon after the investigations followed and it was revealed that Akhtar was not only physically tortured by his employer but also chained and kept in inhuman living conditions.
On Friday, A.K. Verma, SDM Paharganj of the Labour Department, police and activists of the NGO swung into action and recovered the child.
“The child is still in shock but the owner has been arrested under sections 23, 24 and 25 of Juvenile Justice Act, 2005,” said Rakesh Senger, child activist with the NGO. “These are charges of abducting, cruelty to a minor and child labour.”