We have come on the road… This family is facing many challenges amid the scorching heat

Ananya Shroff
5 Min Read

New Delhi: Aman (all names have been changed) is only 6 years old, but he doesn't have toys like other children. He has only seen children older than him making bricks at kilns. He doesn't understand anything when he hears the name of school. Born in a brick kiln in Uttar Pradesh, where his parents worked, Aman is always on the move. His family, from Narayanpur village in Chhattisgarh, moves from one city to another in search of work. Contractors trap them by taking advantage of their poverty and keep them trapped by withholding their wages in the name of repaying loans.

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Aman is one of 53 people from different villages in Chhattisgarh, including women, children and labourers, who escaped from the clutches of a contractor at a brick kiln in Faridabad on April 27. But they were forced to come to the streets of Delhi and stay under a tree at a night shelter in Sarai Kale Khan. Though it is very hot now, they felt it was nothing compared to the heat of making bricks at the kiln. They have neither enough money left to go back to their village nor any means of living here. Returning to the village means going back to poverty. So, most of them have now started working as labourers at construction sites in Delhi-NCR, all hoping that the government will listen to their demand for justice.

National Human Rights Commission issued notice

Following their plea and official complaint, on April 29, the National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to the Haryana government and pursued the matter. However, no solution has been reached yet as talks are ongoing between the commission and the state government. Apart from the Haryana government, the commission has also urged the Delhi government to help these families who are struggling for basic necessities like shelter and food in the summer. So, Aman and the other children stay here, braving the heat, while their parents and grandparents work as labourers at construction sites. Aman, 6, and his brother Ritesh, 7, say they used to make bricks at the brick kiln while their parents made bricks. Their 15-year-old sister Meeta also just wants to go home to the kiln. Education is a distant dream for these migrant children.

Listen to the pain of helpless people

His mother Sushila says there is not enough work in Narayanpur to sustain the entire year, so they return to the city every year and work for about eight months. Talking about the kiln in Faridabad, Sushila and her husband Kulbihari Mahesh said they had taken a loan of Rs 35,000 from a contractor for some essential expenses

Voice raised for fair investigation

Complainant Nirmal Gorana, who is the convenor of the National Campaign Committee for the Eradication of Bonded Labour and was involved in the raid along with the local administration, has in his complaint requested the National Human Rights Commission to conduct a fair inquiry and record the statements of the labourers. The Human Rights Commission had first issued a notice to the Haryana government on April 29 asking it to immediately resolve the problems of the stranded labourers of the state.

What do the responsible officers say?

In May, Ballabhgarh officials submitted a report to the Human Rights Commission, claiming that an inquiry had been conducted and the labourers said they had no complaint against the kiln owner, were being provided basic amenities and there were no restrictions on their movement. Notably, the labourers refused to sign their statements and left without using the tractor facility provided to them. To this, the Human Rights Commission responded, “This report seems to be contrary to the claim of the complainant. The report states that there were no bonded labourers at the kiln and the labourers left the kiln without signing. However, the complainant says that the labourers were being forced to sign false statements prepared by the rescue team.” Due to this, on May 28, the Human Rights Commission asked the Faridabad Deputy Commissioner to initiate proceedings as per the standard operating procedure and submit a report of the proceedings to it by June 21.

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