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Black spots on zari borders.



In the labyrinthine innards of Zafarabad, a resettlement colony in East Delhi, 25-odd kids — aged five to 14 — are squinting their eyes in ill-lit zari factories against gossamer fabrics to craft fashion produce. Squatting on grime-caked floors — without fans, potable water or toilet blocks — this underage, undernourished army is toiling in the most inhuman conditions. Dilapidated buildings, hovel-like interiors and sauna-esque rooms — which leave even adults gasping for breath in 45 degrees-plus — complete this picture of near-Dickensian wretchedness. And this is the children’s fate 24/7 for which they earn a piffling Rs 50 per month!

The scene is no better in India’s commercial capital, Mumbai. On June 1, the city police swooped down on Madanpura’s (Central Mumbai) zari factories to rescue 400 child labourers working in heart-wrenching conditions. Following this, the Maharashtra labour department sent middlemen scurrying for cover as it raided gold-plating workshops in Bhuleshwar to rip the lid off a child labour racket involving hundreds of kids. On June 6, Delhi’s Najafgarh area was shook up massively as the police rescued 30 children — all belonging to Bihar’s Sitamarhi district — from zari workshops. In Secunderabad and Sholapur, cases of child labour have recently come to light. In Muradabad, Mirzapur, Srinagar, Ferozabad too.