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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Five bonded child labourers( Five boys belonging to Villupuram district) escape from Mumbai factory

Five boys belonging to Villupuram district escaped from a bangle-making unit in Malad, Mumbai, where they have been employed as bonded labourers for the past five months. They were spotted at Pallavaram on Wednesday night and handed over to their relatives by personnel of the Railway Protection Force. The boys, aged between 12 and 16, were seen loitering around at the Pallavaram railway station. The RPF personnel of Tambaram quizzed the boys, who, in turn, narrated their tale of woe.

The boys were sold to one Saravanan by their parents for Rs. 3,000 in June this year. They then headed for Malad in Mumbai, where they have been working since then.
They said they were among the seven boys employed in the bangle factory. They used to be woken up at 7 a.m. and would sit down near the machines for work at 7.30 a.m. Their breakfast was just small quantity of porridge, that too, stale. They would work non-stop till midnight and in the process, each of them would have made, decorated and packed 500 bangles.
The gold-plated bangles were all meant for the export market. While they were promised Rs. 2 per bangle, not even once were they given any cash. They were given Rs. 10 once in 10 days or once in a fortnight so that they could buy toothpaste and soap. They did not even have a proper change of clothes. Two days ago, Saravanan, whom they called `Seth', asked the boys to take care of the factory as he was going out to make some purchase.

Seizing the opportunity, they fled from the shop, managed to find the way to the Malad railway station and took an electric train to Dadar station, the boys said. From there, they boarded the Dadar Express and reached the Central Station in Chennai without ticket. From there, they walked across to the Park station, boarded a suburban electric train and got down at Pallavaram, not knowing how to reach their hometowns.

The boys — A. Thangam, 14, A. Arumugham, 14, S. Arulmani, 16, R. Sathish, 14, and R. Vijay, 12, — are all school dropouts and their parents have failed to convince them to go back to school. The boys' relatives said the boys were sent to Mumbai in the hope that they would get a decent job and good food, which could not be provided at home.
The police said they managed to contact one of the boy's relatives and passed the information on to the rest.

The boys said that their request for provision of essentials only elicited assault from the factory owner. ``There are several other factories where there are hundreds of young boys like us suffering at the hands of their employers,'' Arulmani said.
The boys said they were initially excited at the prospect of travelling to Mumbai for job, but now want to get back home and to their school, which they discontinued more than six months ago.

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