Nearly 350 children from Bihar have been rescued from bangle-making units in the Old City are in Hyderabad in the last one week. The children, aged between 8 and 18, were kept as bonded labour. But even after a week of being rescued, the children are still waiting to see their families.
The Hyderabad Police has arranged for a temporary shelter at the Don Bosco School and are trying to make contact with the families of the children. But they have so far only managed to make contact with families of 25 children.
Hyderabad South Zone Deputy Commissioner of Police V. Satyanarayana says that they have to move very carefully to ensure the children don't fall into wrong hands once again.
"We are investigating whether these children were brought with consent. Some people whose children went missing or were kidnapped also have contacted us. Police officers are coming from Bihar to find out more,' says the officer.
Aneesh, a 14-year-old, is worried about his mother back home in Bihar. He says that the money he earned by working at a bangle-making unit in Hyderabad was necessary for his family to survive.
Another boy named Roshan, barely 8-years-old, has even forgotten his mother's name but insists that he was forcibly brought here.
Former chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Shantha Sinha, fears that the police does not have a protocol in place for the rehabilitation of the children
She said that people claiming to be relatives of the children were already hovering around the shelter, saying that they are the ones who employed the children for skill development.
"Even if they are related by blood, the children should not be handed over to them,'' she added.
Sunitha Krishnan, who works for trafficked children and women says, "More important than sending them home is to rehabilitate them properly."
Activists point out that along with the police and administration, there is need for outrage and shock in civil society, to ensure that such blatant violation of child rights does not happen.