- Boys forced to sleep on a mat, not fed properly and never taken to doctor
- They are paid just £1 a day – around half the average minimum wage in India
- They were trafficked from their homes – some by their parents – to Delhi
- Children forced to handle ‘hazardous’ equipment and all looked ‘so frail’
- One boy said: ‘I wanted to leave many times, but we were not allowed’
Helen Roberts For Mailonline
15:06 GMT, 19 September 2014
16:02 GMT, 19 September 2014
A group of 11 boys have been rescued from a factory in India where they were working 12-hour shifts for just £1.
The children, aged between 11 and 17 years old, were trafficked from rural areas in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, in northern India, and taken to Delhi to work.
They were forced to work 12-hour days stitching shoes and baking cakes and encouraged to work extra hours for an additional 40 Rupees (50p).
‘It was like being in a prison’: A team of child rights activists rescued 11 boys from a bakery and a shoe factory where they were working 12-hour shifts for a meagre £1 a day in West Delhi, India
‘Inhumane’: The boys were allegedly forced to work 12-hour days stitching shoes and baking cakes and encouraged to work extra hours for an additional 40 Rupees (50p)
‘Devastating to see’: The children, aged between 11 and 17 years old, were trafficked from rural areas in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, in northern India, and taken to Delhi to work
The rescue operation was conducted by Delhi Police after child rights organisation, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood), reported the crime.
During an hour-long raid, three boys were rescued from a bakery and the others were rescued from a shoe-making factory, in Nangloi, West Delhi where they were earning £1 a day – around half the minimum wage.
The children were kept in small rooms where they worked, slept and had their meals.
They had just a mat to sleep on at night.
They were not fed properly, were never taken to the doctor or given medicine when they were sick and were not allowed to ever leave their rooms.
Exploited: The rescue operation was conducted by Delhi Police after child rights organisation, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood), reported the crime
Taken into care: The children were kept in small rooms where they worked, slept and had their meals
Founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, Kailash Satyarthi, said: ‘It was devastating to see.
‘These children, as young as 12, were working in such inhumane conditions.
‘They were handling hazardous equipment, tired and exhausted and these rooms had no ventilation.
‘Working for 10 to 12 hours in the dark was taking its toll on their health. All the boys were so frail.’
One of the rescued boys, Deepak, 16, was from Samastipur, in Bihar.
He said: ‘I ran away from my home with a friend two years ago to try and find work in Delhi. I then met a man who offered me a job at a shoe factory for 5,000 Rupees (£50) a month.
‘I happily took the job as I could then send money home and support my father, a rickshaw puller, to pay for my mother’s medical treatment.
Rescued: The children are being cared for at Bachpan Bachao Andolan’s boys home and rehabilitation centre
‘I even worked extra to earn an additional 2,000 Rupees (£20).
‘But the owner never paid us and we were only given food twice a day and were confined to our rooms.
‘It was like being in a prison. I wanted to leave many a time but we were not allowed.’
Although Deepak had voluntarily left home, many of the other children had allegedly been sent by their parents to work in the city to support them financially.
Desperate poverty in rural parts of India force parents to send their children out to work but child labour in India is illegal.
Police have now arrested the bakery owner while the employer at the shoe factory is on the run.
The children are now being cared for at Bachpan Bachao Andolan’s boys home and rehabilitation centre.
Kailash added: ‘The Child Welfare Committee gave us permission to take care of the boys and try to reunite them with their parents. Here they’re able to act like children and play and learn like normal boys.
‘They have three good meals a day and a bed to sleep in at night. We’ll now make sure these boys go back to school and have a normal childhood.’