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CHILDLINE 1098 SERVICE » News and Events » Campaigns »
Say No To Child Labour » Case Studies - 2013


CHILDLINE Balangir uncovers bonded Labor

Cases of people trapped as bonded labourers are in plenty. When adults find it difficult to sustain themselves and their families, they often resort to other methods of gaining income. In such kind of situations, the most affected victims are children. Since they have little or no say when adults decide to move out, they’re future gets compromised.

In the village of Babja, situated in the Balangir district of Western Odisha, two families belonging to a low class society were struggling to keep themselves alive. For their daily sustenance, both families were highly dependent on livestock and forest products like leaves. When these products became insufficient, they often migrated to other parts of Odisha in search of employment to meet their basic needs.

Two months ago, both families left their village in search of employment. Laxman and Nidar Patnia, the parents of Sali, Sanjukta, Ajit and Sankuntala Patnia, who study in classes 10, 9,3 and 1 respectively, along with Akhil and Tulsa Patnia who study in class 2, along with their parents Bhima and Sari Patnia, migrated to Mahanga, Cuttack district. Through a middleman/contractor (also known as a ‘Dalal’) they found employment at a ‘brick kiln’. Based on the verbal contract of employer, they would receive Rs. 10,000/- per head, while in actuality they were given Rs, 3000/-. They had been getting Rs.500/- on a weekly basis for 6 weeks. When they asked the brick kiln owner for the rest of amount, they were told that the middleman took the rest of it while the middleman denied any such allegation. Since they were not being paid as promised, they decided to leave. However, the brick kiln owner threatened them with weapons and kept them as bonded labourers for two months.

The impact on the young children

The brick kiln is a hazardous environment. The children were made to work continuously for 15 hours every day from 6 am to 9 pm. In addition to excess working hours, they weren’t given proper meals nor were they given warm clothes to wear at night. Along with their nutrition, their hygiene was also highly compromised since they were not allowed to wash their own clothes. This led to their health conditions deteriorating.

CHILDLINE receives a call

The father of four, Laxman Patnia informed CHILDLINE, Balangir as well as the CWC about their situation at the brick kiln. Both organizations informed their counterparts in Cuttack who decided to investigate the matter further.

A rescue mission was planned. On reaching the brick kiln, the first thing the officials saw was that the children were engaged in brick work. CHILDLINE officials spoke with Laxman Patnia, the person who made the complaint. He told them about how the owner of the brick kiln threatened and tortured them. CHILDLINE requested the DLO (Division Labour Officer) to help with the rescue. Thereafter, in the presence of police personnel, both families were taken to Mahanga Police station and later on to CHILDLINE Cuttack.

CHILDLINE Cuttack rescued and produced both the families before the CWC, and as per the decision, both families were placed at temporary shelters in Cuttack for the time-being. The owner of the brick kiln was arrested. The CWC in Cuttack requested the DLO as well as the Mahanga Police Station to take legal action against him.

Later on, the Cuttack DLO took a formal statement of the bonded child labourers and on the same day, as per the order of CWC, both families were restored to Balangir.

As per the latest update, the DLO is in the process of providing compensation to both families.

- Nicolette