The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that 26 boys, in the age group of 8 to 13 years were rescued from bonded labour in a jeans factory in North East Delhi’s, Seelampur area last month. Expressing serious concern over the incident, the Commission has observed how neither the police nor the civil authorities could check such an illegal activity within the National capital. It has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi and the Police Commissioner, Delhi calling for detailed reports within four weeks about the steps taken for relief, issuance of release certificates and their rehabilitation.

The Commission has also asked them to inform about the action taken against the guilty employer and preventive measures taken or proposed to be taken to ensure that such incidents do not occur in future. The Commission has also observed that the contents of the news report, carried today on 3rd March, 2017, are painful, narrating horrible story of the plight of the poor victims who had been kept under bondage in extremely inhuman conditions. This not only indicates that human rights of these victims were violated by their employer by way of committing cruelty upon them but also highlights that the administration, particularly the labour department, has failed to perform its mandatory duty as per law.

Reportedly, the job of the rescued bonded labour children was to cut threads of jeans and pack it. The task was to pack 10 pieces of the cloth item in 10 minutes and the one who finished last used to be beaten with a hammer by the employer. The victims were forced to work for 22 hours in a day with a sleep of only two hours. As per report, the employer used to beat them with a hammer if anyone is found sleeping or going to washroom during work. Due to lengthy sittings, many of them are not able to walk properly. Injury marks are found on their bodies and one of them could not even open his eyes in the sunlight.

All the 26 rescued boys belong to Motihari district of Bihar, who were brought to Delhi around six months ago. Six of them are from the same village, indicating that they could have victims of child trafficking. They are presently staying at Mukti Ashram, a children home being run by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an NGO headed by the Nobel Laureate Shri Kailash Satyarthi. The report quoted Shri Satyarthi who described the incident as a worst case of slavery saying that little has changed after three decades when, the worst case of slavery was unearthed in 1983, rescuing 27 children from the carpet industry in Mirzapur of Uttar Pradesh.

National Human Rights Commission

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