May 10, 2012 in Victim Story
We had set out at about 2 and after visiting Lalita in Garanwas we went to Falasiya on our way to Nenbara (Jhadol-Falsiya, Dist:Udaypur) to collect Dolatramji to accompany us. And now sun had almost set and yet we had not reached our destination. I was worried as I intended to take evening bus for Ahmadabad. When we reached Nenbara, my hosts started locating the house. They had sent two of their colleagues in advance to meet three victims in this area. They were contacting them on mobile. I was told that all victims have been asked to wait for us at one place so that we do not have to waste our time in reaching out to all one by one.
But that was not so. Rambha was at her home in Zablo Falo, they found out. We decided to visit her first. When we were tying to locate the house, we came across a person who introduced himself as Rambha’s uncle. He readily agreed to accompany us in car to show us way to the house. He was out to fetch water. He put his pot under a tree and came with us. That made our job easy.
She was sitting on the otta (raised platform in front of house) alone. She looked confused, tense and in despair. She did not participate much in conversation. Family members replied mu questions. May be, she was being interviewed for nth time and that she may be the reason for her lost interest and enthusiasm. After the accident and resultant disability has clamped her wings at the young age of 15 and she is not adequately rehabilitated, must be painful and she has not come out of it completely. I also thought what life has to ofer her here when she cannot walk for long distance. She can walk shorter distance with the help of stick, limping on one leg. I wondered, if she had any friends to share views, thoughts, successes, failures, ambitions and disappointments and moments of joy. I really felt pity for her and others like her. How a small accident at distant factory turns one’s life entirely. I thought she must have seen great dreams for her but now she is confined to this remote place which has nothing to offer to a young girl. She had now her own world of loneliness. Was this a permanent state of mind? Or something happened just before we arrived today? Any temporary physical discomfort? or anger of unavoidable one more interview which would not bring any qualitative change in her life? I do not know the reason nor were the circumstances permitting me to go in-depth to know the truth. Her face still haunts me. She must be full of life once, I thought.
She is one among 3 sisters and one brother. Brother is eldest. Rambha is second among daughters. Only youngest daughter is studying in the school, now in 5th standard. Rambha was not sent to school so that she can look after the goats owned by family.
After Diwali festivals, she went away with Kalu, the met (the contractor), to work in factory in Gujarat, without taking family into confidence. She was just 13 by then. A ‘child’ as defined by Child Labor (Protection & Regulation) Act, 1986. Cotton Gin is hazardous as provided by the is Act. No child labor can be employed in Cotton gin.
Her father came to know about the migration of his daughter only after few days. Kalu (the contractor) had taken away with him 5-6 girls and 2-3 boys. She was taken to Ganpati Gin in Kadi where there were 20 workers in all. Rs.60 /- per day for 12 hour duty was the condition. Shift would be changed each week. No identity card issued. Dormitory was provided by the Gin in the premises.
It was January 27, 2008. She was in day shift. It was evening 5. Her duty was to sweep the floor in Charkha room. Her left leg fell and trapped in screw conveyor under floor pit. She fell down on back, her leg in the well. Her left foot got cut vertically from toe to heel. Fitter was there and he immediately stopped the conveyor. It is obvious, under floor pit was uncovered. But how she could not save her self? She had put on plastic slippers, I was told. She was tired. Was she sick? I do not know. She does not know who, how and when was she taken for treatment.
She stayed for one month in a private hospital in Kadi and then was discharged but stayed back for follow up. Sangita stayed with her to look after her in hospital but she was not paid for this service by the management, neither Rambha was paid for the lost time. No one informed her family back home till one month. Later, they informed asking them to visit to collect the wages paid to the girls. Even then, they did not say a word about accident.
Father recollects that there was police complaint filed by the Union and Met but Rambha does not recollect if her statement was recorded by the police. She was brought home few days before Holi. Factory paid all treatment cost plus `.1000/- towards travel. At home they continued treatment for some time for which they had to spend `.1500/-.
Now she helps in kitchen. She can not do any other domestic chores. She walks with the help of stick limping on one leg. Injured left foot is completely deformed and only toe would touch the floor. Walking is painful, she told and hence avoids. There is urgent need for rehabilitation efforts. Possibility of reconstruction operation should be checked. It seems that had she been provided better quality of treatment, she might not have ended up with the disability to this extent.
Family do not know the extent of disability assessed. Union has filed claim for compensation but they have no knowledge where the claim stands now. As reported by the Union, disability as assessed by the doctor appointed by Union has assessed disability to be 40%. Claim is under progress in Kalol Labor Court.