More than 200 child laborers were rescued by Indian authorities during early morning raids in Hyderabad that led to the arrests of 10 people, according to New Delhi-based television station NDTV. The police were intending to target people with long criminal histories when they stumbled upon the children.
The children, as young as 6 years old, were from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Briar in northern India and were making bangles and leather products, according to NDTV. They were brought to Hyderabad after their captors paid their parents 20,000 rupees ($325.)
Some of the children had untreated wounds and were kept in filthy conditions. About 500 police participated in the raids. NDTV only identified one of the people arrested: Yasin Pehelwan.
A few girls were among the child laborers, according to NDTV editor Uma Sudhir. She tweeted that the children were kept in crowded rooms “like rats in holes.”
About 4.3 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are believed to be working in India, according to a 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Labor. About 70 percent work in agriculture, another 17.5 percent perform industrial work like breaking stones and stitching soccer balls and 13 percent work in the services industry like tourism, construction and domestic service.
While forced child labor is illegal, India allows children under the age of 14 to work.
“Basic legal protections for children remain weak,” the U.S. Labor Department report found. “Legislation to prohibit work by children under the age of 14 and to proscribe hazardous work for children under 18 was introduced in Parliament in 2012 but has yet to be passed.”