Two escape forced labour, find shelter

Say they travelled for over one-and-a-half-year after escape,

Shamsul Islam May 06, 2012

FAISALABAD: Two brothers, a 12-year-old and other 14-year-old, reached a Kamalia police station on Saturday after fleeing from a forced labour camp over a year and a half ago.

Kamalia City Station House Officer Mian Abdur Rauf said they were contacting police in Dera Ismael Khan to locate the family of the two boys. “We have informed several police stations in the region about the boys. Hopefully, we’ll make headway in a couple of days,” he said.

The boys identified themselves as Arslan, 14, and Ali Hasan, 12, residents of Dera Ismael Khan. They said they had fled after over a month at the camp where they were sold by a trucker who kidnapped them from near Dera Ismael Khan. They said 17 other children had escaped with them but gone their different ways.  They said the camp was set up in a mountainous region.

The boys said there were around 50 children at the camp. “We were required to shepherd cattle throughout the day. They fed us only once in a day. We were given a loaf of bread to eat in the evening,” they said.

They said those who refused to eat or work were given electric shocks and beaten up. “Anyone found trying to escape was killed and his body cut into pieces in front of the rest,” they said.

They said they were sold at the camp by a trucker who tricked them into accompanying him on their way home from work. “He (kidnapper) said he had known our father and offered us a ride back home. We were tired after the day’s work at the restaurant and took his offer,” they said.

As they boarded the truck, the children said, the kidnapper sprayed some substance on their face, making them fall unconscious. “Whenever we gained consciousness, he sprayed that substance again,” they said.

The boys said they had been working as helpers at a restaurant some distance from their house. They said they were the only bread-earners for their family of four (a mother, a sister and the two brothers). “Our father had died when we were young,” they said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2012.


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