27 children rescued from circus company

HYDERABAD: Twenty seven children, including nine Nepali nationals were rescued at Chittoor from a circus company. All aged between nine and 14 years, the circus company, Great Prabhat Circus, has been booked under the Child Labour Act for discreetly trafficking children from across the border and exposing them to inhuman working conditions.

Significantly, except for one boy, all the rescued children were girls.

The joint rescue operation which was carried out on November 25 by Chittoor police, labour department and Centre for Action Research and People’s Development (CARPED) was based on a tip-off from a Nepal based NGO, Esther Benjamin Trust.

Officials involved in the rescue operation said that the children from Nepal were picked up from their respective houses when their parents were busy working in the agricultural fields.

They were later trafficked by middlemen to India.

According to rescue team members, parents of the trafficked children in Nepal were given Rs 500 each month, though that money failed to reach them on time.

The other rescued children were from Guntur and Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh. Apart from Nepal, Bangladesh is another country from where children are known to be frequently trafficked to the state by similar circus companies, officials said. Great Prabhat Circus had in the past too come under the scanner for employing children in its company.

“They were exposed to harsh living conditions. They were not only denied food but were also not allowed to sleep properly,” said M Subhash Chandra, director, CARPED.

While the Nepali children will be sent back to their country with the help of the Esther Benjamin Trust, the other rescued children will be kept at shelter homes in Chittoor till their family members contact them through the nearest police station.

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