An orphanage in Hyderabad it seems is being run by people with neither a heart nor respect of the law - not only do they make the children in their care do work, they actually send them into manholes to clean their muck. Never mind that both child labour and manual scavenging are banned in India.
Officials who run the orphanage with around 200 children as inmates in the Uppal area of Hyderabad have been booked by police for making 12 -year-old girls clean a manhole inside the orphanage on Saturday.
A video that emerged on Saturday, shows a girl wearing a red dress, her face covered with a grey scarf immersed in a manhole. The girl can be seen taking out muck in a mug and pouring it out. She does this while an adult can be heard in the background issuing instructions.
The incident came to light when a local resident of Swaroop Nagar in Uppal saw children at the AGAPE Orphan Home being made to clean and took a video.
â€śWe received a complaint from a local resident. We have registered a case against the warden under violation of Child Labour Act and section 75 of Juvenile Justice Act. The case is still under investigation,â€ť said Inspector Y Narasimha Reddy from Uppal Police Station.
Two people have been arrested.
The orphanage consists of 230 children out of which 90 are HIV positive.
â€śWe got the information from a local. As many as 12 HIV positive girl children were cleaning the manholes outside,â€ť alleged Achyuta Rao, a Hyderabad-based child rights activist.
The activist alleged that when the supervisor was asked about the incident, he said that since the children staying in the orphanage were HIV patients, no one would come to clean the manholes.
â€śManual scavenging is banned in India, and here they are making children clean manholes. The government has turned a blind eye to these children,â€ť said Achyuta.
According to the orphanage's website, it was established by Lynne Guhman-Voggu, who moved to India in 2000 from Massachusetts and married and Indian physician named Dr Ratnam Voggu.
Achyuta also said that there are several orphanages in the city without proper facilities or management, and have been left unmonitored.
Child labour is rampant in Telangana, said the activist.
In the second week of April, another case of child labour had come to light, when the headmaster of a government school forced students to work.
For nearly a month, students at Shivarampally ZP High School in Ranga Reddy district were forced by their headmaster to indulge in hard labour to demolish an old compound wall.
The headmaster, K Kistaiah, allegedly made girl students clean water tanks and toilets at the school. However, despite repeated complaints by parents, Kistaiah continued to force the children to work.
The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) in Telangana had rescued 3000 child labourers in 2016 under Operation Muskaan and Operation Smile.
A total of 534 cases were filed in Hyderabad and Sangareddy district under the violation of Child Labour Act.
â€śDespite the strict laws, child labour has been one of the biggest problems in the state. This year more than 200 children have been rescued in Telangana. However, several incidents go unnoticed. One big reason is that the government hasnâ€™t taken necessary action against culprits,â€ť rued Acyuta Rao.