In 2012, the Government of India put a blanket ban on employing children below the age of 14 and employing adolescents below the age of 18 in hazardous environments.
But violations of the laws are rampant across the country. Today, Sajad Rasool brings us a video documenting such violations in Kashmir, which has around 2,50,000 child labourers between the ages 6 and 13.
Meet Showkat Bhat, a young boy living in the Chakarbadpora area of Budgam District, Jammu and Kashmir. When Sajad met him, he was working at a MNREGA work site on his Sunday off from school.
But Showkat is not alone at this work site, there are at least a dozen others with him, lifting heavy stones and helping build houses. That they are working under a government sponsored employment scheme is even more alarming.
In the scheme of things, life is still easy for the kids here; at least they attend school (though there is no guarantee of the quality of education they receive). Many others don’t get that far.
Sajad says that over 20 years of conflict in the region have left many families impoverished. With little choice, parents send their children to work wherever an opportunity arises. The carpet and weaving industries in Jammu and Kashmir have earned sinister reputations with the large number of children in their employ.
Other children find themselves working in a myriad number of ventures ranging from mechanic shops, to restaurants and domestic help.
This anti-child labour day, Sajad asks you to call Mr. Aftab Ahmed, the Director for Rural Development, Kashmir on 09419042561 and ask him to work towards ending child labour.