Rihana Begum kept as bonded labour for manual scavenging in Dwarka sector-
7 DDA park; accused convicted.

Rehana Begum, a victim of bonded labour, accused three contractors, Sonu Kumar, Jawed Khan and Sanjeev Kumar for making her work for long hours without payment. She was employed by Sonu on 15 February 2014, with Rs. 5000 ‘advance’ money, and was promised a wage of Rs. 5000 per month. She was asked to manually clean the toilets and guard them, however, despite repeated requests, she wasn’t paid. Jawed Khan and Sanjeev Kumar, who superseded Sonu Kumar, also refused to pay her.

(Photo used for representational purposes only; credits: HT)

In February 2017, her husband wrote to National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour (an initiative by Human Rights Law Network), following which NCCEBL National Convenor Nirmal Gorana visited Rehana. NCCEBL then sent a complaint to the District Magistrate (DM) and Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM). In the same month, SDM raided DDA sector-7 park and took Rihana’s statement. With persistent efforts by the NCCEBL, SDM declared her ‘bonded labour’, granted her release from work, and issued directions to pay her Rs. 20,000 interim compensation, and to file an FIR under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act. However, quite shockingly, after an enquiry, the DCP (South-West District) claimed that Rehana wasn’t bonded labour, and hence didn’t file an FIR.

Meanwhile, Rehana and her family were continuously harassed by the accused and their associates. The authorities also disobeyed a Delhi High Court order in some ways, for which they were reprimanded by the court on 25 September 2018.

Fortunately, the Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Sh. M. T. Kom has now awarded a one year jail term to Sonu Kumar and Jawed Khan, and a 14 day jail term to Sanjeev Kumar. A fine of Rs. 2000 each has also been imposed on the three contractors.

By Muskaan Gupta

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