20 child workers freed but employers go scot-free
The “child labour action week,” a drive launched by various administrative bodies, the police and NGOs to rescue child workers in the city, ahead of Children's Day on November 14, got off on a farcical note on Monday with the officials concerned being largely apathetic to the exercise.punjab Updated: Nov 10, 2014 21:09 IST
The “child labour action week,” a drive launched by various administrative bodies, the police and NGOs to rescue child workers in the city, ahead of Children's Day on November 14, got off on a farcical note on Monday with the officials concerned being largely apathetic to the exercise.
Though police teams turned up in the afternoon to conduct raids at several establishments no female cop accompanied them.
The three teams, who had been instructed to carry out searches at factories, homes and shops, eventually managed to free 20 children employed as workers, four of whom were handed over to their parents. 13 of the kids, aged between eight and 16 years, were employed at a firm called Jagdamba Exporters, located on Rahon Road. Four girls working there had to stay back as no female cops had been deputed.
According to the team members, the children were paid Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 a month. However, what was surprising was that the police did not file any criminal case against their employers.
The raids were inordinately delayed after the police failed to arrive at the designated place at 9 am as scheduled with labour department officials showing up an hour a half later at 10:30 am. Senior police officials then told the team members to begin the exercise at 2 pm.
Meanwhile, assistant labour commissioner Satnam Singh said his department would impose hefty fines on the factory owners concerned.
During a similar drive held last June children employed as workers in various city establishments were released without presenting them before the Child Welfare Committee in accordance with the relevant laws.
Dinesh Kumar, a member of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (a national organisation campaigning for the rights of children) said, “Those violating provisions of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Rehabilitation) Act, 1986 can be imprisoned for up to one year besides being fined Rs 20,000.
Similarly, the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 provides for one year jail and a Rs 10,000 fine and the Bonded Labour Act has mandated a minimum three years' imprisonment. But the irony is that in spite of all these stringent laws in place the police doesn't bother to file criminal cases against the employers concerned.”