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Proactive action from the AHTU frees trafficked tribal boys

Sometimes bonded labour happens in urban contexts and in the open. In April 2014, the Anti Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) rescued 11 tribal boys from Jharkand who were making and selling pani puri around the city of Bengaluru. Some had been beaten with sticks for trying to find other employment or take rest, and all had been threatened with similar violence.

Baiting them with an advance and false promises, traffickers took the boys 2,000 km from their homes to dingy conditions and ceaseless work. Only the traffickers reaped the benefits. The AHTU officials who had attended a workshop on bonded labour and enforcement procedures, conducted the rescue along with Child Welfare Committee and IJM.

The trafficked boys were issued Release Certificates by the Tahsildar that day. The police arrested one business owner under Section 370 of the IPC and the Bonded Labour System Abolition Act, among other offences. Citing the seriousness of the offence, a Sessions Court denied bail until the charge sheet was filed 85 days after arrest.

Now the boys have returned to their families and are in the care of the Child Welfare Committee in Jharkhand where they can enjoy freedom. They are receiving vocational training which will equip them with the skills needed for a better livelihood.