The central region in Mumbai saw a major rise in crimes against children. The total number of cases increased from 92 in 2013 to 244 last year.
The region, which comprises small-scale manufacturing units in Dharavi, Agripada, Antop Hill, Kurla and Shahu Nagar, witnessed a crackdown against child labour in 2014. As many as 336 boys forced into child labour were rescued in 2014 in nine cases, against just 27 boys in five cases in the corresponding year.
Five girls were rescued last year. The police arrested 139 people for forcing children to work, as against just 12 in 2013.
“The number of child labourers in the city is much higher and the solution is to cut down on their trafficking. As children work, it affects the employment for adults,” said Vijay Jadhav, founder and secretary of Samatol foundation, an organisation that helps reunite runaway kids with their parents.
“We see a boy working at every other hotel in the city. The authorities lack will power to end child labour,” he said.
Activists believe rehabilitation is important for such children. “After being rescued, the child is terrified and needs post-rescue trauma. Rehabilitation is important, which is not implemented positively. The condition of children homes should be improved,” said Arti Paranjape, who works for child rights.
The figures also show the existence of discrimination against the girl child.
The police registered 66 cases in 2014 under Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 317, which is related to abandoning a child of under 12 years. Of these, 64 involved girls.
“Crimes are being registered as the department has been sensitive in cracking down on cases related to women and children,” said a high-ranking police officer from the region.
The other crimes that saw an increase in the central region are house break-ins, which went up from 475 in 2013 to 546, and vehicle thefts which went up to 856 from 780.
However, there was a dip in chain-snatching, which went down from 577 in 2013 to 279 in 2014.