Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Metro caught on the wrong track

Metro caught on the wrong track

An underage boy was rescued from a work site, while two others fled the place

Vaishalli Chandra. Bangalore

Donning a yellow security helmet and an orange reflector jacket, Mohammad may pass off as any labourer at a work site. But, a close look at him reveals his young age.
Look at the picture and decide — does he look older than 14? Mohammad maintained that he was 20.
A resident of Malda, West Bengal, speaking in a heavily Bengali accented Hindi, Mohammad said he studies in Standard VIII at his village school.
With a month off from the school, he was in the city to earn a few bucks for the family. But as fate would have it, he was identified by some residents of Nanda Road, who filed a complaint with the labour commissioner, under the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act.
Acting on the complaint and a call to the helpline, the boy was rescued by members of the Association for Promoting Social Action (APSA). It was close to lunch break at 36th cross on Nanda Road where the metro work is in progress.
In the complaint, three underage children were mentioned, but by the time the members of APSA reached the spot, two of them had already fled.
On questioning, Mohammad informed that he had come to the city last week. His primary work was to dig mud from the site. Working from 6 am to 6 pm he made Rs110 per day which was paid on a weekly basis.
The contract on that stretch (Nanda road) is given to Nagarjuna Construction Company (NCC). Workers informed that Mahesh was the engineer on the site. The company has been informed and it has agreed to come for a hearing on Thursday.
When DNA contacted his father, he said, "We are poor farmers. He has gone to make a few rupees." Mohammad has three brothers and a sister.
When he spoke to Anwar, the agent who got him here, over the phone, Anwar assured the shocked child, "Kichu hobe na" (Nothing will happen).
Mohammad was taken to the Government boy's hostel behind Kidwai hospital, his new home. His case would be heard by the Child Welfare Commission on Thursday. Until then, Mohammad will stay at the hostel.
A visibly shocked Mohammad was reluctant to eat or drink and after a lot of persuasion from child helpline members, he finally ate at around four in the evening.
The rescued boy's name has been changed to protect his identity


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