When 15-year-old Rishabh (name changed) failed in his secondary exams in April 2016, little did he realise that the result will be a prelude to a long struggle during which he will be forced to work as a child labourer and lose a hand.
For the last seven months, Rishabh has been writing letters to authorities, requesting action against the rubber factory owners in Rajasthan’s Alwar district who forced him to work as a child labourer.
“After I failed in my Class 10 exams in April, my family sent me to Delhi for coaching. By the time I reached the capital, my bag was stolen on the train and I was left without money,” said Rishabh, son of a farmer in Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh.
He said he met a man, Vicky, at New Delhi station who promised him to take back home but instead brought him to Bhiwadi in Alwar.
“They took me to a rubber factory called Bahubali Rubber Pvt Ltd and said they will give me money which I can use to go home. They forcibly made me work from April 11 to May 3. On May 4 morning, in spite of my refusal, they made me work with the machine in which my hand got trapped and I was injured,” said Rishabh.
When he started crying out of pain, the machine was stopped and he was admitted to a private hospital where the company owners faked his age, he said.
“They said my son’s age is 19 but he is actually 15-year-old. We have his school marksheet as proof of his age. After we came to know about the incident, we took him back to Madhya Pradesh; a part of his hand had to be amputated because of infection,” said Rishabh’s father.
An FIR was lodged against the factory owners at Chupanki police station in Alwar, but no action has been taken.
“It is unfortunate that in spite of our pleas, the administration has turned a blind eye to the plight of this child. I brought the matter to the notice of the department of child rights, which wrote to the district administration in June for action. But nothing has happened till now,” said child rights activist Deshraj Singh, alleging that the police are reluctant to act against the accused.
“Though cases registered under the Juvenile Justice Act are supposed to be dealt with promptly, no action has been taken; it is a mockery of justice,” said Singh.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights asked the Alwar district administration for an explanation in July, but there has been no action.
“I will be looking into the matter,” Alwar superintendent of police Rahul Prakash told HT.
Manan Chaturvedi, chairperson of the Rajasthan Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said the commission is monitoring the case.
“We have given the ultimatum to the district administration. If they don’t take immediate steps, the commission will take strict action against them,” Chaturvedi told HT.