With Child labour continuing unchecked at many places in Kashmir, the silence adopted by authorities over the issue is depriving thousands of children of their childhood. Here's a special report on how heaven could be hellish for the valley's children.
Majority of child laborers are in the age group of 11 to 14 years. For example, take the case of 14-year-old Aquib who works as a vegetable vendor in the streets of Srinagar
city. According to Aquib, he has never been to school, because his family cannot afford to send him to school.
Another Sibling, Mahammad Maqbool, who works as a bag hawker belongs to a very poor family and he has no choice than to start working. He said that the poor financial condition of his family made him to skip school and work as a laborer. Mahammad told nnis, “Yes, we want to go to school, but as we are very poor we cannot effort to do so, perhaps we are not destined to do so.”
The state's labor department stated that the problem of child labor is wide-spread in the Kashmir valley. The department fails to provide a solution to this burning issue. Assistant Labor Commissioner of Kashmir, Mr. Gulzar Ahmed while talking to NNIS acknowledged that child labor is prevalent in valley.
Mr. Ahmed said that, “A child below 14 years is found working anywhere, then a case is registered against the employer. But there are many children who work in the markets selling many different things. So, there we cannot implement the child labor act and the inspector cannot do anything, there we cannot find an employee-employer relationship. The children come and take up things from their own relatives and sell it in the market.”
Notably, a study conducted by the Central Asian studies department at the University of Kashmir found that huge numbers of working children are uneducated and impoverished. This is a fact that constitutes a great violations for human rights. According to the study nearly 34 percent of the child laborers have only received a fifth grade education, while over 66 percent of them have studied until the eighth grade.
Once they start working, eighty percent of the child laborer stop attending school altogether. Even that 9.2 percent of the child laborer are between 5 and 10-years-old, while 90 percent of them are between 11 and 14-years-old. These trends portal a clean picture of an entire generation of impoverished and uneducated youth.