Hyderabad: The Cyberabad police's Operation Muskaan Team, on 19 November, rescued 11 minor children from Divya Shakthi Paper Mill in Kondurg police station limits who were engaged as child labourers.

The Cyberabad police formed Operation Muskaan Teams in the three zones of Cyberabad. They will work throughout the year to rescue children involved as labourers, beggars, rag pickers, and also runaway and vulnerable children.

The team along with the Child Line officials raided the paper mill on Thursday and found that the minors were engaged in loading paper in the machine which was affecting their health. They were being paid very low wages and they worked long hours, for over 12 hours, without any breaks or holidays. They were living in unhygienic conditions, in small rooms without ventilation and were suffering from malnutrition, stunted growth, and other health issues, the officials said.

All the minors were brought from Bihar and Jharkhand by a labour contractor for Rs. 12,000 per month. In return, he was collecting a commission of Rs. 1,000 from each and more than Rs. 5,000 for ration and other necessities. In the end, each child received only Rs. 4,000-5,000 per month.

According to the officials, the mill management employed adult workers to work during the day and the children were made to work only during the night. A case has been registered against the owner of the company for violating the Child Labour Act. Meanwhile, the children were sent to a shelter after producing them before the child welfare committee.

The Cyberabad police have launched a special WhatsApp number - 7901115474 - for reporting child labour. Citizens are requested to report any person who has engaged children below 14 years as child labour in hotels, restaurants, dhabhas, tea stalls, and as domestic help. People can also dial 100 or send an e-mail to [email protected] to file a report. The Cyberabad police said stringent action will be taken against the offenders.

Using children below 14 years as labour is prohibited by law and carries a punishment of imprisonment of up to three years.

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