27 Indian child workers were rescued by police from a biscuit factory of one of the country’s leading brands. Officials said the factory which was being used by Parle Products Private Limited in the eastern city of Raipur was raided over the weekend.
However, Parle Products has brushed off allegations of child labor. It said the factory was also being used by another company and would look into the matter. Mayank Shah, a senior executive at Parle Products said the factory in the concerned case is not run or operated by Parle Products. Shah said its being operated by a third-party sub-contractor.
A member of the Raipur Child Welfare Committee, Kantanath Sinha said the boys had informed them that they were working from 8am to 8pm packing biscuits and running the machines, and received wages from Rs5,000 to Rs7,000 per month. Sinha confirmed that three boys are below 14 years of age. Reports say that most of the children are between 12 to 16 years of age and belong to Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.
Ashwani Rathore, Vidhansabha Police Station House Officer said a taskforce rescued the children. Rathore confirmed that a case has been filed against the factory owner under the Juvenile Justice Act based on a complaint registered by Women and Child Development Department officials.
State Coordinator of NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, Sandip Kumar Rao said the Child Welfare Committee should add Sections 3, 3A, 14 of Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act and Section 370 (buying or disposing of any person as a slave) of Indian Penal Code in the case.
Child labor continues to be a problem in India despite a range of laws and programmes in place to address the problem. The UNICEF says child labor is prevalent in India because of poverty and illiteracy. “The family’s social and economic circumstances, a lack of awareness about the harmful effects of child labor, lack of access to basic and meaningful quality education and skills training, high rates of adult unemployment and under-employment and the cultural values of the family and surrounding society.” Family indebtedness is another major contributing factor.