Missing Children:A casual approach

CBI Figures Say 60,000 Kids Go Missing Every Year But Only 30% Rescued

Indrani Basu TNN

      New Delhi: At present, there are three million human trafficking victims in India of which 1.2 million are children —this is what figures released by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) state.

       With 60,000 children going missing each year, of which a dismal 30% are rescued or traced, Delhi alone has over 1 lakh children who are employed in various hazardous occupations. However, despite clear high court directions, activists fighting child labour in Delhi allege that proper action has not been taken to fight child labour by the administration. 

    “Judicial activism with regard to child labour is stringent in Delhi. The laws are quite clear and there are multiple court judgments which give the direction to Delhi Police as well as concerned departments to book perpetrators of this menace. Despite this, proper implementation of these laws is not done and administration takes it lightly,” claimed Bhuvan Ribhu, lawyer for the NGO, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA).

         In an affidavit filed by the NCPCR in January in response to a petition filed by BBA in the high court, it was found that 1,510 children have been rescued since July 2010 through legal procedure. As per court guidelines, a minimum of 500 children should be rescued from Delhi and Rs 20,000 recovered as fine from the employers of these children against each child rescued.

       “In 2010, by our records, 1,960 kids were rescued, but the police managed to retrieve only 11 lakh in fines. The figure should have run into crores,” said Rakesh Senger, national secretary of BBA.

          Court guidelines state that the department of labour has been instructed to take action and rescue children immediately on receiptof information. However, activists claimed that in several cases, action is not taken for weeks even after a complaint is filed. “We have found that a rescue operation has not taken place even after 60 days of the complaint. We have 3,000 pending complaints as of now with regard to child labour,” Ribhu told TOI.

        Complaints of child labour are usually given to the District Task Force headed by the DC of the area. In the case of the Bharat Nagar bindi unit too, BBA activists claimed that they gave a complaint to the task force a month ago. Despite the complaint, timely action was not taken, alleged activists.

        As per law, relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Juvenile Justice Act have to be applied against those found guilty of perpetrating child labour; Bonded Labour Act and Child Labour Act are also used as applicable.
The police and the divisional commissioner have been given three weeks to enforce these laws properly and the District Task Force has been asked to have a meeting every month on the 10th and 11th to review the action plan to crack down on child labour, said experts.

         An International Labour Organization report titled ‘Global Report on Child Labour (2010)’ indicates that India is deeply committed to remove bonded labour. Despite India becoming the first country in the South Asian region to enact legislation against bonded labour, ground reality continues to remain in shades.
indrani.basu@timesgroup.com

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