They say 50 children from sweet-making unit ran away along with them

The Ernakulam Rural police raided a peanut candy company at Aluva and arrested its owner and two of his sons on charge of employing two minors in their company.

Emmanuel, 47, of Kunnatheri near Aluva, who runs a company that manufactures peanut candy named JMS Sweets, and his sons Prince, 18, and James, 20, were arrested under provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act.

The police raided the establishment after two minors who were found by ChildLine workers in Thiruvananthapuram said they were working at a company in Aluva. “We questioned workers of the company and others during the raid who recollected seeing the children at work there. Based on the information, we made the arrests under the Juvenile Justice Act. We will take further action after getting the statements of the children,” said Ernakulam Rural District Police Chief S. Sateesh Bino. He said that no other minors were found working at the company. The two children had been working at the unit for the last six months. They allegedly ran away from there unable to bear the hardships they suffered there.

Child welfare activists in the city alleged the company had employed other minors as well. But they had removed the children from the premises following reports that the two children had been found in Thiruvananthapuram.

Special Correspondent writes from Thiruvananthapuram:

Two boys hailing from Kulashekharappattinam, near Tiruchendur, in Tamil Nadu who ran away from a sweet-making unit at Aluva in Ernakulam district on Tuesday are now being housed at a ChildLine facility here.

Anburaj, 14, and Kartheesh, 11, – who were allegedly beaten by an employee at the shop – were found wandering at the Thiruvananthapuram Central railway station on Wednesday morning by ChildLine activists.

On Wednesday afternoon, Childline officials contacted the boys’ mothers over telephone and verified their identities. Anburaj’s mother Mariaselvam and Kartheesh’s mother Chithra arrived here on Wednesday night.

Anburaj told The Hindu on Thursday that he and his cousin had gone to the Aluva railway station on Tuesday where a woman got tickets for them to Thiruvananthapuram. “We reached here on Wednesday but had no money to travel home. When we went to a shop to ask for water, the uncle there called somebody and they brought us here,” he explained.

According to Anburaj, they were brought to Aluva by a person called Abraham who lives near their home town. He reportedly told Mariaselvam he was taking the boys to a house-warming ceremony and would bring them back in a couple of days.

Anburaj said he remembers the sweet shop owner as Emmi (later identified by the police as Emmanuel) and that the shop was named ‘JMS’ after Immanuel’s son James

“We ran away after being beaten by an uncle called Mani. The beating began when I tried to prevent my cousin from being harassed. There were about 50 other children. All of them ran away along with us. Only one child of my age remains there now,” Anburaj said.

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