Family pawns children for a loanBy Sharat Pradhan, IANS
Thursday, December 16, 2010
LUCKNOW - Poverty has driven a family in an Uttar Pradesh village to give away their three children in bondage against a loan of Rs.42,000.
The children have to now toil for 12 hours a day to make up for the loan taken by the family, a distraught relative said.
This followed a request by Sharif Ahmad to get an electricity connection in Milakrota village of Bareilly district, about 250 km from here, around four months ago.
After making him run from pillar to post, officials of the Uttar Pradesh Power Corp told him that it would not be possible for him to get a connection.
They, however, encouraged Ahmad to go for an illegal connection by hooking on a cable from the main line flowing through the village - a practice followed by many with the connivance of the officials.
Since a number of villagers were enjoying the facility of such illegal connections, we easily fell into the trap and opted for one myself against a nominal underhand payment to the officials, confessed a close kin of Ahmad.
One morning, a fine of Rs.42,000 was slapped on us for the illegal connection, said Ahmad, who earns barely Rs.200 a day by preparing thread to fly kites.
Left with no option, he sought a loan from an affluent kite thread manufacturer who agreed to shell out the money in lieu of labour provided by his three children.
The kids - Salim (15), Mohsin (13) and Shoaib (12) - now toil every day at their employers workshop so that the huge loan of Rs.42,000 gets repaid.
For how ling this could continue is not known as the terms are not laid down in black and white.
Ironically, this has neither attracted the attention of the authorities dealing with bonded labour nor have human rights activists cared to look into the case.
(Sharat Pradhan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)