91 child workers rescued in Ganjam

Berhampur: As many as 91 child workers employed in different places, including hazardous cashew processing units, have been rescued in Ganjam district, police said today.

“During raids conducted on hotels, garages, shops and cashew processing units in the district under Operation Muskan, 80 boys and 11 girls have been rescued. Four of them are from Bihar,” DSP (crime) Subash Acharya said.

The children, rescued since Saturday, are in the age group of 12 to 17 years, he said.

The DSP said 13 children were found working in cashew processing units at Sorada (7) and at Khallikote (6). Eleven of them were girls. Cashew processing unit is categorised as hazardous under Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986.

“Two separate cases have been registered against owners of these units. We are investigating the circumstances under which these children were employed in these units and whether they were kept as bonded labourers,” the DSP said.

The rescued children are in the custody of an NGO – ‘Childline’. They would be produced before the district child welfare committee (CWC) soon and later handed over to their parents, Acharya said.

Earlier in last one month, a squad of the district-level monitoring committee had rescued 22 children, 20 of them from Bihar, from sugarcane processing units and ‘gup-chup’ making units in Berhampur.

The squad comprised district labour officer, chairman of district child welfare committee, district child protection officer, police and campaigners.

Lauding ‘Operation Muskan’, state convener of the Campaign Against Child Labour, Sudhir Sabat said such operations could be more successful if police involved different agencies like the labour department, child protection units and voluntary organisations.