Saturday, 11 October 2014

Rescued 14 years ago, Bihar youth hails NGO success

NEW DELHI: Fourteen years ago, activists of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) had rescued an eight-year-old boy, Suman Mahato, from the house of an engineer in Bihar where he was made to work as a bonded labourer. On Friday, despite his fever, Suman, now a 22-year-old graphic designer, rushed to the BBA headquarters in Kalkaji to celebrate his mentor Kailash Satyarthi's success.

For boys such as Suman, who see Satyarthi as an inspiration, the Nobel prize is the ultimate victory of their struggle to earn freedom from violence as well as for their right to live with dignity. Since 1980 over 83,000 children—who were forced into bonded labour and abused by traffickers—have been rescued by BBA.

In Delhi, since January 2005, BBA has been instrumental in leading 580 raids, along with labour department and police, to rescue children locked in dingy chemical factories, zari units, packaging warehouses etc. BBA has also been tracking the collection of the fines from the erring employers. The total recoveries from fines in the capital amount to Rs 5.72 crore. The back wages recovered from employers will be around Rs 1.37 crore. Not only in the city, BBA's operations are spread across the country.

As decades of work by Satyarthi and his team received the accolades from the Nobel committee, the modest BBA office in Kalkaji market turned into a hotspot with both national and international media crowding the premises and road space outside it. Amid all this, Suman sat quietly in the lounge watching the celebrations. Shyly he smiled when asked to express his thoughts on the occasion.

He told TOI his story of rescue. Suman's mother was a bonded labourer in Bihar and she had forced him into the job after she fell sick. The family took his 'custody' in lieu of a loan given to his mother made him work from morning till night. A tip-off from a good Samaritan helped a BBA team to rescue him, which then kept him in a children's home run by the organization in Jaipur. He was then enrolled in a school and later pursued graduation in a DU college.

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