For Ritu ( name changed),10, the day would begin with household chores in her master’s house and the labour continued till late night. From sweeping and mopping the entire house to washing utensils, clothes and a lot more, the minor girl had endless tasks on her list. Beatings and torture were in store for every petty mistake and delay on her part.
But not any more. Now her day begins with a nutritious breakfast and she heads to the classroom for studies. Her eyes have a new spark and the zeal to study and do well gives her a new energy every day.
The girl was rescued by Lucknow Childline and was admitted to Kasturba Vidyalaya. “Nearly eight children rescued by us were admitted to schools and our follow-up reports have shown that the children are continuing their studies,” said Sangeeta Sharma of Childline.
Till four years ago, Suruj Ali, Aalam Shukur Ali, Zakir Hussain and Azhar Ali all started their day with rag picking. They would get up early morning to go on a round of nearby colonies and markets. While doing their job, they would see children going to school.
“When we came to know about such children, they were brought to informal schools and were later mainstreamed. One of them, Zakir Hussain is now in Class 12,” said Sharma.
A number of children rescued from the local dhabas, restaurants and mechanic shops just needed the right push, Sharma said.
The task of rescuing child labourers is primarily that of the labour department.
In the last fortnight, around 78 children were rescued. But that’s not a regular practice. “If the department continues its drive round the year and acts firmly with the institutions or individuals who employ such children, Lucknow would be child labour-free. But the department only does it as a mere formality,” said a social activist.