The anti-human trafficking unit of the Ghaziabad police on Thursday rescued 61 children allegedly employed in small industries at Behta Hajipur area of Loni.
The police also arrested nine contractors who had allegedly lured these children from their hometowns to Ghaziabad. The action was taken as part of ‘Operation Smile’, an initiative of the police to trace missing children.
The rescued children were produced before the child welfare committee (CWC) in the evening and shifted to shelter homes. As many as 59 of these children belong to various districts in Bihar, while two are from Uttar Pradesh. Most of the children said they came to work here to support their families back home.
“A man known to my family brought me here for a job. My younger sister is suffering from health problems and my parents, who are daily labourers, do not earn enough. So, the contractor brought me here and promised that I will be given Rs 1,500 per month. But I do not get any money and my contractor pockets all my earnings. He told me that he will send money to my parents,” said one of the rescued children. The 14-year-old belongs to Bihar.
Another 11-year-old boy, who also hails from Bihar, said that he came to Ghaziabad with a contractor a month ago. The contractor had paid Rs 1,000 to his parents.
“After I reached here, I was told that I will be paid only after I go back to my village. The employer used to give me Rs 50 when I went out on my off days,” he said.
Officials from the anti-trafficking unit said the arrested contractors hail from Bihar.
“The nine contractors hail from Kishanganj in Bihar and were arrested following registration of an FIR. The children were put up in a room where they lived in unhygienic conditions. They were asked to cook their own food. We will now call up their parents and reunite the children with them,” said Vinod Kumar Sharma, in charge anti-human trafficking unit at Ghaziabad.
The contractors have been booked under IPC on the charges of buying or disposing of any person as a slave, criminal intimidation, wrongful confinement, voluntarily causing hurt and unlawful compulsory labour. They have also been charged under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, the police said.
The Ghaziabad police have so far rescued 262 children under the third phase of Operation Smile, which began on January 1.