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Last Updated: Monday, 8 September, 2003, 18:31 GMT 19:31 UK
Child labourers speak out
By Ayanjit Sen
BBC correspondent in Delhi

Child labourers in India have been speaking out about the conditions they were forced to work in.

Child labourer
Twelve-year-old Mohammed missed his parents

The seven children were rescued from their employers by a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation, working with the help of the police.

Most of the seven children are from the north-eastern state of Bihar, and have worked for the last two years in what the organisation describes as inhuman conditions.

The chairman of the South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude, Kailash Satyarthi, said there are several hundred more such children, at work in Delhi's embroidery factories.

Beaten up

For 11-year-old Mansoor, life was hellish.

"I used to work 15 hours a day and earn about 20 rupees (less than $0.5) per week," he said.

Mansoor, who is from Muzaffarpur district in Bihar, said he used sleep hungry in a small dingy room on most days after work. He has been working for the past nine months.

"My parents came into contact with a middleman who had promised good money for working in Delhi," he said.

Twelve-year-old Pramod Kumar, who belongs to the same district, said he used to be beaten up for even a small mistake.

Sold three times

Most of these children were lured to Delhi for money.

Mohammed Taukir's parents work in a junkyard in the eastern city of Calcutta.

Rescued labourer
Life in labour: Narayani has been working since she was a child

"I used to miss them a lot but could not visit them. I have not seen them in the past one year. Whenever I used to cry for my parents, my employer would admonish me and even beat me up," said 12-year-old Mohammed.

Narayani, in her 50s, said she had been sold three times during the last three decades by her employers.

"I was working with my husband and three children in the northern state of Haryana in a factory, and all that we used to get as salary was food," said Narayani.

Mr Satyarthi said bonded and child labour was booming in several parts of the country.

According to estimates, several hundred thousand children work as labourers in India.

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