Photo by: Kns

Srinagar, Jan 09 (KNS): In spite of many strict laws existing against child labour in Kashmir, the number of minor children, less than 14 years of age, working as labourers is increasing with every passing day.
Sources said that though the figures issued by the state authorities has said that there are around five thousand such children but the independent surveys reveal that the number could be more than one lakh.
According to different report on ‘child labour in J&K: social, economic and ethical dimension’ there are more than one lakh child labourers in the state, majority of whom work in the handicrafts sector, automobile workshops, brick kilns, agriculture and as domestic servants in homes.
According to persons who studied their problems and carried out research on them, it (child labour) is because of poverty, distress and illiteracy. Thousands of children even below 14 years of age can be seen working as vendors, bus conductors, and in the carpet weaving factories and in workshops.
One of the professors of sociology in Kashmir university told KNS that the existence of Child Labour Act and other laws regarding prevention of child labour appear not to be effective at all because child labour is quite common everywhere. “Moreover, there is neither social security system nor any NGOs working against child labour and government also appears to be indifferent and oblivious of taking serious and punitive action in preventing this,” he said.
He said if government is saying that the child who does the labour by his own choice and is not subjected for the work is not a child labour, the Professor said that if this order is to be believed then there is not even a single case of child labour in the state. “The children here are being converted into the machines so that they could earn money and to sustain their families.”
The experts said that the major cause of concern at present is that the children born during the times of recent turmoil have deeply been affected physiologically and that economic crises have added to their miseries.
They said that the state authorities must come forward and devise a long time strategy so that the children of the state could be rehabilitated at the earliest otherwise the outcome would be serious and destructive.
Another educationist said that during the last 25 years of turmoil, the children of the state have been affected at the worst and that there are more than 80 thousand orphans in the state between the age group of 15-25 years. “The government has to come up with the strong plan that can be implemented on ground so that we could save these children from destruction.”
They said that the lives of innumerable children are ruined because of the poverty and misery of parents. “The growth of child labour is not because of poverty and illiteracy alone. It is also because of apathy of the government because it does not take serious action to control this vice and important social issues are being neglected”.
Experts believe that unlike other states of India, there are no good NGOs in J&K which can raise their voice against child labour.“ Although the Department of Labour and Employment claims that every month they conduct inspections in all districts to see children working as labourers and come across violation of such laws, but almost in all cases they come with proofs showing that the children are above 14 years and in this way they dodge the laws,”.
As regards children working as domestic help, an officer of the labour department says that they can enter shops and establishments to detect child labour but cannot enter homes to locate children working as domestic help or servants. (KNS)