SIALKOT: Police officials have recovered 12 family members engaged in bonded labour on orders from the Pakistan Chief Justice (CJ).
Sialkot police also arrested the brick kiln owner illegally detaining worker Muhammad Inayat and his family and suspended the investigation officer who abused Inayat’s family in lock-up. The family was detained in lock-up for one night.
The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) urged the government of Punjab to rehabilitate the family and rescue thousands of other families working in the brink-kiln industry.
On January 24, 2011, Inayat visited the SPARC Islamabad office and requested help to free 12 of his family members being illegally held by a brick-kiln owner. “The police had previously threatened me not to approach anyone with the case but it has been weeks since my family has been locked up,” Inayat said.
Before action could be taken by the District and Sessions Judge Sialkot on the directions of the CJ, Inayat was also confined at the brick kiln site but was released by the owner on the promise that he would return the Rs191,100 which was paid to him as an advance. “This is a lie. I never took any money and my family is being held simply because we couldn’t keep up with the work load fast enough,” he said.
Inayat’s family members include his father Ghulam Rasool (70), mother Amina Bibi (65), wife Sakina Bibi (40), eldest son Ghulam Farid (18), other sons Naveed Bilal (17), Ghulam Abbass (14), Samar Ali (12), Abdur Rehman (7) and daughters Zahra Bibi (13), Aruba Kunwal (10), Tayyaba Inayat (6) and Kiran Islam (4). SPARC officials forwarded a request to the CJ for the urgent recovery of the family and the CJ directed that the family be recovered as soon as possible.
On January 31, 2011, the District Police recovered the family by raiding the brick kiln site in village Ghokal, Tehsil Daska, Sialkot and recovered nine family members. Two minor girls, Aruba Kunwal, Tayyaba and their grandfather Ghulam Rasool were being held in another location.
The investigation officer allegedly detained Inayat and nine family members for one night and abused them for taking the case to Islamabad NGO’s.
“They kept all of us in the police station and hurled abuses at us. They even beat two of my sons,” Inayat said. The Superintendent Police Investigation, Nasir Muneef Qureshi took notice of the detention of Inayat’s family in police lock-up and has suspended IO Shafaqat Ghuraya and constable Abar Ali.
“There was no justification for keeping the family in lock up and we have taken notice of this,” Qureshi said.
After two days, Police recovered both minors and their grandfather from an unknown location as the children and the old man were dropped off by kiln workers.
Meanwhile, the brick kiln owner Tariq Khan and his munshi Qaiser Khan have been arrested and charged under Sections
342 (wrongful confinement) and 365 (kidnapping) of the Pakistan Penal Code, however, no section on Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1992 has been applied in the case. According to the Act, peshgi (advance) is prohibited and illegal, and no one can confine labourers against the peshgi.
According to Inayat, the Munshi of the kiln, Bashir had trapped his family on false promises.
Inayat was promised to be given Rs517 for making 1,000 raw bricks; moreover he was also promised free wood and electricity.
Instead, Inayat was given a receipt that stated that his son Ghulam Farid had been given Rs191,100 in advance the next day.
“The chit said that if I did not pay back the money by December 31, 2010 they would charge me Rs4,500 every day and take away my family,” Inayat said.
SPARC Child Rights Committee Sialkot urged the Government of Punjab to help rehabilitate the family.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2011.
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