The bakery owners had allegedly taken away their Aadhaar cards which was the only identity proof

Four children rescued from suspected bonded labour in MangaluruImage: Stop Child Labour campaign/PTI
news Thursday, January 14, 2016 - 19:23

A case of suspected bonded labour involving four minors from Odisha, one of whom is thought to be below 14, has emerged in Mangaluru.

Four youngsters, including a minor girl, were rescued from a house-turned-bakery in Kodialbail area in the city on Wednesday by officials of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC)​, Childline, and Mangaluru police.

A boy and three girls hailing from Angul district in Odisha were allegedly confined and made to work by the owners of Cream and Caramel bakery run by Prem Raj Shetty and Denzel Fernandez.

The raid was conducted following a tip-off from social activist Vidya Dinker.

Dinker told The News Minute that she was informed about children being employed at the bakery by friends a few days ago. “They told me that one of the girls looked visibly younger, but she claimed that she was 15 years old,” she said.

The four children were produced before the CWC. Until Thursday morning, no FIR had been lodged, Dinker claimed.

The youngsters are now at lodged at a transit home for children in the city.

Vidya said that the children had told her that they had come to work in the city, and had alleged that they were not paid any wages since they started working at the bakery five months ago.

“They told me they were given only five minutes for lunch which would be around 2-3 pm. They had no idea what their wages were. They claimed that they were hit when they asked for the payment,” said Dinker, adding that she would lodge a complaint about bonded labour.​

“When I asked them why they didn’t look for another job when this one wasn’t fetching them any money, they claimed that their employers had taken away their Aadhaar cards which was the only identity proof they possessed,” she added.

employment is legally amounts to ‘bonded labour’ if work is done against an advance or deferred wages, remuneration is below minimum wages, and there are restrictions on freedom of workers to leave employment if they wish. All three apply to these four children.

Dinker alleged that the bakery has been getting a steady supply of labour from Odisha. “We don’t know what the condition of the others working here is like. But I hope the police find the route of the supply.”

Dinker said that the children had not contacted their parents since they left home. Though the boy had a mobile phone, he had no currency.

Asked if the district administration would consider this as a case of bonded labour, Dakshina Kannada district Deputy Commissioner AB Ibrahim told The News Minute that he was not aware of the exact details of the case and that he would respond after he ascertained the facts.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.