The social defence department raided a quarter on the premises of Rajkot District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Limited (RDCMPUL), popularly called Gopal Dairy and rescued 14 child labourers from there on Thursday.
Acting on a tip off, a team led by Kanaksinh Zala, social defence officer (SDO) of Rajkot district raided a residential quarter on the premises of Gopal Dairy on Dudhsagar road ofthe city at around 10:30 am. The team rescued total 14 labourers from the quarter while around 50 others managed to run away. On verification, it was found that 14 of the 18 rescued labourers were child labourers while the remaining four were found to be adults.
“We had the intelligence that out of 70 persons working in the packaing unit of milk processing plant of Gopal Dairy, 33 were child labourers. After getting concrete evidence, we undertook an operation to rescue these child labourers. However, half of them ran away after being instructed by their employers as we approached the quarter,” Zala told The Indian Express.
A child below the age of 14 years employed in certain occupations or hazardous process is called child labourer. “The rescued labourers were working with machines in the packaging unit in shifts of eight hours. Working with machines put these child labourers at the risk of injuries and other hazards,” the SDO added.
Zala said that milk processing plant falls in the category of factory and therefore labour department will file a criminal case against RDCMPUL for employing children. “The rescued child labourers are native of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. As of now, we have sent them to Special Home for Boys on Jamnagar road of the city. “We are planning to hand them over to district child welfare committees of their native districts in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar so that their special care is taken and needs like education etc is addressed,” Zala further added.
Govind Ranpariya, chairman of Gopal Dairy said the dairy had not directly employed these children. “They had been engaged by an outsourcing agency. We had not recruited them. After the matter came to light, we have already terminated our contract with the manpower supply agency which had engaged these children,” said Ranpariya.
RDCMPUL is a member union of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, the giant dairy cooperative which markets milk and other dairy products of popular Amul brand. Gopal Dairy is one the biggest dairies in Saurasthra in terms of per day milk collection.
The team of the SDO also raided two imitation jewellery manufacturing units in Shyamnagar area of the city on Thursday and rescued 24 child labourers.