Bihar’s rescued child labourers now want to return to work
One of the rescued child labourers said he was able to save some money while working at the factory in Jaipur and the life at his own village was not any better since he had to work there too but for very little payment in return
*Mantosh (name changed), a 15-year old boy from Supta village in Bihar’s Gaya district is one among several victims of human trafficking who were rescued last year from Jaipur, where they were working at a bangle manufacturing factory. Back to his village now, he does menial jobs to earn his bread and also helps his parents at the village farms. While these are busy days for a farm hand, Mantosh wants to leave the village to earn “better” money outside.
*Taj Mohammed (name changed), another victim of human trafficking from Bhulli village in Sitamarhi district, who was also rescued from a bangle factory in Jaipur in October this year, has been working at a village farm since his return. The head of his family who used to work as a labourer in Kashmir has been seriously ill for the last one year and had to borrow ₹40,000 from a local money lender for treatment and sustaining the family. Taj Mohammed has been working to pay back the debt at the village farm but is desperate to go out for better earnings.
Ramesh (name changed), yet another child labourer from Bhitiya village under Rasulpur Panchayat in Jehanabad district, was also rescued from a bangle factory in Jaipur this year. The boy despite his harrowing experience in Jaipur where he was threatened by employer’s goons before he managed to leave with police’s help, now wants to leave home again to earn.
HT has learnt that altogether 711 child labourers were rescued mainly from the bangle factories in Jaipur between 2018 and 2021 and many of these are in the same mental condition these days. The euphoria of returning to their native places is over now and the harsh economic realities have taken over, forcing them to reconsider earning options outside.
The common refrain among them is that while life was tough as captive labourers at the factories but it’s even tougher to survive and sustain without earnings.
“What option do they have except working? He will have to leave home to earn money,” Urmila Devi (40), mother of rescued child labourer from Gaya, said. “Though he is working at a village farm, he doesn’t like it. Payment is very poor,” she added.
“He couldn’t even join the school as the authorities refused admission on the ground of him being overage,” she said.
The woman said Mantosh was one among the 50 children who were taken from Aligarh to Jaipur. “In fact, we were working at a brick kiln in Aligarh in UP at that time. We have been going there for the last six-seven years. We go there every year in May and return during winter. It was at the Aligarh brick kiln that the broker lured our children to go with him to Jaipur. My son was also working there with us. Though we didn’t want to send him , he insisted and joined the group,” Urmila Devi said.
Mantosh said life was difficult at the bangle factory. “We had to work since morning till late evening. I was not beaten as I never disobeyed the employer,” he said. He adds that he was able to save some money while working at the factory in Jaipur and the life at the village was not any better since he had to work here too but for very little payment in return.
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His mother said every child in the family has to work to sustain. “We are daily wage earners and have been going to Aligarh to work at brick kilns for the last six- seven years. They pay good money and provide food and accommodation also. Here in the village, the work is irregular and the payment too is very poor. Here sometimes ₹250 a day is paid while in Aligarh they pay ₹400 a day,” she said. We would have preferred to stay here had there been any government assistance and even the boy would not have been eager to leave, she added.
Aas Mohammed, father of the rescued child labourer from Sitamarhi, said the boy has been working at the village farm for the last few days. “How would the family survive? I cannot work now because of my poor health. For over 10 years, I worked as a labourer in Kashmir. Most of the people in our village go to Kashmir during summers to work. But now, I can’t work, but the debt has to be cleared,” he said.
He too hopes that the family gets some financial support from the government. “I have come to know that there is a provision, but we haven’t been given the financial support,” he said.
Suresh Kumar from Centre Direct, an Non Government Organisation (NGO) which has been in many rescue operations, said the government has various kinds of support schemes for the rescued child labourer. “But many of rescued children have not been given the support,” he said. Soon after the child labourer is rescued, ₹3000 is given by the labour resources department as immediate financial support. This money is meant to meet immediate expenses of the child. And later, ₹25,000 is given to the family from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund under the Child Labour Tracking system initiative,” he said.
Out of the 711 rescued child labourers , only 21 have received immediate assistance of ₹3000 given by the labour resources department. And only 31 rescued child labourers have received financial assistance from Chief Minister Relief Fund, he added.