Mahir*, along with 14 other boys, were trapped in a dilapidated building in southern Delhi where they were forced to live and work in an overcrowded room on the fourth floor engaged in zari (traditional embroidery work).
Mahir, only 14 years old, was trafficked from a rural village in the eastern state of Bihar. Mahir’s parents worked hard to provide for the family, but finances were lacking. When traffickers came calling, promising good jobs and new opportunities, they agreed to let their son go with him to Delhi.
Contrary to the trafficker’s promise of a well-paying job and safe working conditions, Mahir was forced to squat on the floor stitching patterns for at least 15 hours a day. He and the other boys were paid less than the statutory minimum wages and were verbally abused on an ongoing basis. Throughout investigations in the area, JVI and its local partner, EFICOR, uncovered Mahir’s situation and filed a complaint with the local authorities.
On August 8th, 2019, JVI and EFICOR conducted a rescue intervention with the police. Once the boys were removed, the room was sealed by the police to prevent further entry. The freed boys were escorted by the rescue team to the police station where they were given food and immediate medical attention. The medical examiners found that due to the nature of their work, victims were prone to health issues – especially those affecting their eyes and spine.
JVI and its partner assisted members of the Labour Department and Child Welfare Committee in documentation and verification of each victims’ details. JVI lawyers assisted the police in filing the First Information Report under relevant provisions of the Child Labour Act, Bonded Labour Act, Juvenile Justice Act and Indian Penal Code.
Mahir and the rescued boys now reside in shelter homes where they will receive counseling and additional support. Along with access to education, they will receive various government entitlements. JVI lawyers are working with the authorities to ensure the offenders are held accountable. Over the next 24 months, JVI’s aftercare staff and partners will work with the survivors to ensure their sustained freedom and restoration..
Most importantly, Mahir and the boys are going to get something they thought they had lost, another chance at childhood.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the victims