It is a tragic irony that India, the largest democratic country in the world, bears the scourge of having 65 million bonded child Labourers and 300 million adult Labourers, living a life of bondage. Bonded Labour Liberation Front (BLLF) is the first organization that started working on this issue. BLLF under the stewardship of Swami Agnivesh has walked past a number of milestones since its inception in 1981, working on the goal of liberation of bonded labour, including child labour and their subsequent rehabilitation. Lack of administrative and political will to carry out the Constitutional mandate and enforce prohibitive laws has been the root cause behind the slow progress in reaching the goal. Nevertheless, against all odds, the Organisation has achieved the release of over 1,78,000 bonded labourers including 26,000 bonded child labourers from the shackles of slavery. A large number of them have been rehabilitated. From the Carpet Industry alone, about a thousand children have been rescued and restored to their parents. Their rehabilitation has been monitored effectively. BMM has started a campaign for the provision of formal and full time education for these children, along with the supply of nutritious food to each one of them. BMM has also been raising the issue of food security to these poor families.
In pursuance of the Organization’s cherished goal of a society where there is equality, BMM has been campaigning against many social evils such as Dowry, Female Feticides, Alcoholism, Violence against women, Gender Injustice, superstitions, child marriage, minimum wages etc.
Although the bonded labour system was being practised in many parts of the country, much of BMM’s work has been more or less localized in and around the National Capital of India- New Delhi. This is because, the incidence of bonded child labour has been alarmingly high in this region. Children are brought in thousands from different parts of the country and engaged in different hazardous and non- hazardous industries in inhuman conditions violating all norms of health, safety and minimum wages. BMM conducted its first major raid against this in Garhi near East of Kailash, (Mamraj & Shera Mohalla) of South Delhi on the 6th of Jan 2006 and rescued 55 bonded child labourers from a factory engaged in embroidery work with the assistance of the area SDM and SHO. The rehabilitation of all these 55 bonded child labourers has been arranged at their places of origin by the respective district administration. Under rehabilitation package, each child was to be enrolled in a formal school on a monthly stipend of Rs. 100/ – per child. A sum of Rs. 20,000/- was also sanctioned to the parents of each child to enable them to prepare the ground for some gainful employment. Those who were homeless were given houses under ‘Indira Awas Yojana’ or some other scheme of the respective State. The Organisation has been monitoring the process of rehabilitation very closely.
In another successful operation, BMM raided the premises of a factory at Sari Kale Khan, Delhi and rescued 77 bonded child labourers on the 29th May 2006. Noted Social Activist Swami Agnivesh led the operation with the area SDM and SHO providing necessary support. Prior to the raid, activists of BMM have been keeping a close watch on the activities in the premises for almost three months. Requisite arrangements for transportation of children from the premises to police station and then to a safe transit station- Agnilok Ashram, Behalppa, in Haryana, their boarding and lodging including entertainment was all streamlined well in advance. In the afternoon of 29th May at 12.30 PM when the raiding party reached the spot, 77 children were found working in virtual captivity. Police had to break in to rescue all the bonded child labourers. The owner of the factory was absconding.