Child helpline rescues; police arrest one accused
Two bonded child labourers were rescued by the District Child helpline and handed over to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). Police arrested M. Ariamuthu (48), who had ‘bought’ the two boys to work as goatherds for three years.
The boys were forced to drop out of school and were working as goatherds with Ariamuthu, who owned about 500 goats, a year and a half, when one of them escaped and arrived here on March 26.
Ariamuthu, who hails from Mariyur village in Kadaladi block, was arrested under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, read with Section 16 of the Bonded Labour System Abolition Act, 1976. He was produced before a magistrate court and remanded in judicial custody, police said.
Police said the 12-year-old boy Vinoth Kumar was wandering around the new bus stand on the night of March 26, when he was rescued by Child Helpline service officials. The boy told the officials that he had escaped from Thozhuvooranai, about 12 kms from here, where he was herding goats.
On information provided by him, the officials, with the help of police, rescued another boy, Muthu (13), hailing from Puravikadu in Thanjavur district. District Child Welfare Committee (CWC) Chairperson R. Sakunthala told The Hindu that CWC has taken custody of the two boys and admitted them at a home here.
As both the boys were interested in pursuing their studies, the CWC will make arrangements to admit them in schools in the coming academic year, she said. Vinoth Kumar is a 4 standard dropout and Muthu, dropped out after 6 standard.
Vinoth Kumar, who is an orphan, said he and his elder brother were sold for Rs 55,000 to Ariamuthu by their relatives to raise money for the marriage of their sister. She got married two years ago and it appears to be a child marriage, Ms Sakunthala said.
Efforts are on to trace his elder brother Ajith Kumar (16), who is working as a bonded labourer near Erwadi. Their two younger brothers are presently with their grandmother. The CWC will provide them care after obtaining custody of the boys, she said.