Nearly 90 children from Bihar, some as young as 8, were rescued after multiple raids on bangle-making units in the old city area of Hyderabad on Thursday.
These children were kept under inhuman conditions and virtually held captive inside small rooms. They were forced to work from dawn to dusk.
According to the police, these children were bought after paying Rs 5000 to their families.
One of the rescued children, Joginder, told NDTV he wanted to go home but 'maalik' wouldn't let him. Another worker Sameer said they were not allowed to rest or play during work time, between 9 am and 10 pm.
The workshop itself doubles up as living area. A small room to the side equipped with a gas stove, some rice and potatoes served as kitchen.
The children seem to have become so mechanised that they continued working diligently even as the police went in to rescue them. "The fear of punishment has done this to them. CCTVs have been fitted in many units to keep an eye on the children to ensure they never sit idle," Hyderabad South zone DCP V Satyanarayana told NDTV.
Last Saturday, more than 200 children from Bihar were rescued by the Hyderabad police in an early morning raid in the Bhavani Nagar area, pointing to an organised trade of exploiting children as cheap bonded labour. These children were used for bangle-making, and leather and other hazardous works.
More than 20 people have been arrested, among them Yasin Pehelwan, a muscleman, who reportedly brought the children to Hyderabad after paying money to their parents, the police said.
The police say illegal financiers were hand-in-glove with the mafia of brokers and bangle manufacturing unit owners. "We want to book even the bangle shop owners who are creating demand and pushing child labour," Mr Satyanarayana said.