Breaking Shackles of Child Labour

Gandhinagar, June 7: The government of India permits children aged below 14 year to work only in family enterprises and entertainment Industry, It strictly bans use of child labour in hazardous industries.

Despite  the ban, child  labourers are visible almost everywhere : In glass bangle factories off Firozabad(U.P) ceramic factories in Gujarat, dhabas /eateries on  highways, errand boys in grocers’ shops  shoe shine boys   and so on…

Let’s not deny that there exists a vicious cycle: Urban Indians need help for their daily chores whether at home or the workplace. On the other hand, poor families are perpetually in need of cash in order to feed so many mouths; so they push their offsprings into any sort of employment. And the urban folks gladly avail of the cheap labour .

However, from time to time some good Samaritans emerge to redeem the sufferings of these hapless children. A recent example in the case is Jharna Joshi, an   Ahmedabad based lady who took up cudgels against child labour. 22 year old Jharna, a BBA student was on a visit to her cousin’s home in Morbi, Saurashtra, during a vacation in April this year.

One morning she noticed a huge number of children being bundled into buses which did not look like school buses anyway. A curious Jharna followed one of the buses and was shocked to discover that all of them were employees of  Sonaki ceramic unit located on Ghuntu Road,Morbi.  This  is  one of the largest.ceramic factories  in the area.

To investigate further Jharna managed to bag a job in the factory’s pasting and designing section.  Slowly she learnt that the kids had long working hours and were often deprived of food and water. Even short breaks were not allowed.  Also, most of them were aged below 18 years!

Two weeks into her job, Jharna sent off a report to the Department of Child Welfare, describing the sordid, inhuman conditions the children were working in. She even wrote to the Chief Minister’s office, besides personally visiting Gandhinagar, the state capital.   This was in the third week of May.   Her efforts were rewarded.   During that weekend, a posse’ of officials from various concerned departments including social defence, police, labour and employment raided the factory and rescued the children.

M C Karia Deputy Labour Commissioner of Rajkot Region says this is the biggest ever rescue operation in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. Interestingly, out of the 111 children rescued,100 are girls.!!

As of now the rescued children can laugh play and enjoy themselves instead of wasting their lives in dark dingy, hellish atmosphere.