Newborn twins buried under bondage of brick kiln

Published: February 25, 2011

They were freed but not before being forced to bury their babies without shrouds.

ISLAMABAD: Their babies died before they were freed. Muhammad Shahid’s wife gave premature birth to twins, a baby girl and a boy, somewhere in the middle of February. The girl died immediately after birth but the boy lived for three days.

The two were hastily buried without shrouds in unmarked graves by their parents, Shahid’s colleagues, asking not to be named, told The Express Tribune.

The two were part of the 23 people freed by a court bailiff on Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) orders on February 17. They went back to their hometown but without their babies.

“The brick-kiln owners did not provide money for the medical treatment of Shahid’s wife. They could not take her to hospital because they had no money,” said a brick kiln worker who had witnessed the family’s struggle.

He further said that the owners of the kiln, Chaudhry Sabir, Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, Chaudhry Mehmood and two others were furious at Shahid’s father Ashraf, who had filed a petition with the IHC against the illegal detention of workers at the brick kiln.

“The lives of the babies might have been saved if they were born in a hospital or if they were taken to a doctor immediately after birth,” said a female brick kiln worker.

“The baby boy was relatively healthy and had chances of survival if he was given medical treatment in time,” she added.

The workers said that Shahid had asked the owners for money to take his wife to hospital for treatment but he was refused. Then when the babies died they were “silently” buried without observing the religious rituals and a proper burial.

“Shahid and his father Ashraf did not go back to the kiln owners to beg for money,” said Shahid’s friend and a co-worker.

Shahid along with his family had arrived at the Makhana brick kiln in 2008. Later, Shahid’s father Ashraf had also brought some more relatives and friends to work at the kiln.

Soon after, the owners violated their verbal agreement with the illiterate kiln workers by reducing their daily wages from Rs350 to Rs150. They also used to lock them after their work every day.

The workers were tortured by the owner’s men whenever they tried to break away from the detention, said a brick kiln worker who had stayed back. He and his family had not signed the petition, due to fear of the owners and were left out in the end.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2011.

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