Officials the Labour Department on Monday found a child allegedly employed by a Customs Officer at Mannagudda. The officer has been accused of violating the Child Labour (Protection and Regulation) Act, 1986.

Following a tip off, the officials led by Assistant Labour Commissioner Venkatesh A. Shindihatti went to the flat of the officer at Mannagudda around noon.

They had to wait for nearly 90 minutes to enter the flat as the wife of the customs officer initially refused to let them in and question about the boy, who was said to be aged below 14.

Around 2 p.m., Mr. Shindhihatti and other officials, including a doctor from the Employees' State Insurance (ESI), were allowed inside the flat. In her statement to the officials, the woman said she had brought the boy from Bihar, when they all moved to Mangalore two months ago. The boy was living along with her two children and she had planned to send him to school, she said. She said the boy was aged above 15.

The boy told presspersons that he was studying in a school in Bihar and his mother sent him along with Ms. Mamatha Prasad. Usually, he would be sent to bring vegetables and other articles from Urwa Market, he said. The boy said he also helped the customs officer's children in getting ready to school. He expressed his willingness to get educated and become a police inspector.

Mr. Shindihatti said the boy was not part of the officer's family and keeping him in the house attracted the provisions of Child Labour Act. The boy will be kept at Bala Mandira (formerly Observation Home) in Bondel. He would be produced before the Child Welfare Committee and taken to the Wenlock Hospital on Tuesday, he said.

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