Anwar, 11, worked in a zari embroidery unit in Bhatta Basti, a slum area of Jaipur.
His day began at 9.30 am and ended at 1.30 am. For 16 hours, he sat in a small room with other children doing fine needle work on clothes. He got an hour’s break for lunch and dinner comprising of dal, rice and a vegetable. Anwar was paid `2,000 for his labour.
Anwar says he worked in the zari unit for 2-3 months before a team rescued him and sent him to a shelter home.
His brother, Rehman, says he is 14, but looks younger. Asked about the gruelling schedule, he replies, “If we don’t work, how will my family eat?” His family comprises his parents, four brothers and two sisters.
The brothers are from Palsa village of Bihar. They worked in Delhi and Mumbai before being brought to Jaipur by their elder brother. The children are among the 12 rescued from Bhatta Basti area of Jaipur.
Vijay Goyal, coordinator of One Stop Crisis Management Centre, says around 80% of the children rescued are from Bihar, Bengal, Jharkhand and UP.
He says children are made to work long hours in dismal conditions and also face sexual and physical abuse. The supervisors in the units often give gutka to the children to keep them in a stupor. “Under its influence, children don’t feel hungry or sleepy and keep working for long hours.”
Rehabilitation of rescued children is a concern, he says. “The Child Welfare Committee (CWC) needs to make verification process more rigorous before handing children over to people who claim to be parents or relatives.”
But CWC chairperson Ram Prakash Bairwa says the committee is doing its best within stretched resources.
Besides crackdown on middlemen, Manan Chaturvedi, chairperson of Rajasthan State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, says poor families should be given livelihood options.
As per the 2011 Census, there are 28.12 lakh child labourers in Rajasthan. Of this, 14.61 lakh are boys and 13.51 lakh are girls. There are a total of 163 children’s homes in the state. (Names of children have been changed)