State to seek help from Bihar, Nepal to reach child labourers to parents

“I want to go back home and study. I have studied till the Fifth Standard. I had to stop studying as I had to work to help my family. My friend, who was in my class, is now already in the Seventh and I want to catch up with him,” said 15-year-old Ahmed Ali (name changed). He is one among the 50 child labourers who used to sweat it out in a cramped room near K.R. Market, making gunny bags for his employer. The group of migrant children, all aged between 5 and 15, was rescued during a joint raid led by various departments here on Tuesday.

While six children were sent back to their hometown along with their parents, the remaining 44 — who are from Bihar and Nepal — are in the custody of the Children Home for boys Bangalore (Urban). P.N. Basavarju, member of the Child Welfare Committee, said the committee has been given custody of the children for four months. The State government will write to the Bihar government — and the Nepal government if necessary — to trace their parents. “We want to send everyone back to their homes.”

The Hindu spoke to some of the children currently housed at the Children’s Home for Boys. They had just got a new haircut and had eaten a sumptuous plate of chicken biryani. Most said they wanted to go home. A 13-year-old, who was licking the last drop of milk from his glass, declared: “I don’t like Bangalore. Bangalore to us is a small room where we would sit all day and stitch bags. I have not seen anything in this city. Bangalore reminds me of the seth who would make us work all day sitting in the same position. He would beat us if we did not heed his instructions. I never want to come back.”

Rajendra Prasad, Superintendent of the Children Home for Boys, Bangalore (Urban) as many as 32 of the children from Motihari district in Bihar, apparently brought by a relative who promised them “a large amount of money”. The children said they were only given Rs. 2,500 a month, which was delivered to their homes.

When the boys were asked what they aspired to be in future, the room reverberated with yells of “Doctor! Engineer! Pilot! Police officer!”

Sadly, there was the lone voice of dissent. A little boy, clutching a chocolate wrapper, said: “I don’t know if I will go back and get to study. My mother works in the field and earns little. I don’t have a father: I have to help her.”

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