• Saturday, July 13, 2024


Indian Police probe Som Distilleries over suspected child labour

Police had opened a case under juvenile justice and bonded labour laws.

Representational image (iStock)

By: Pramod Thomas

INDIAN police said on Monday (17) they had launched an investigation into Som Distilleries after the government’s child rights agency announced it had found children working at a distillery.

The National Commission for Protection Of Child Rights (NCPCR) said last Saturday (15) it had found more than 50 children at a plant in Raisen district in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

“More than 50 children were found working in the manufacture of liquor, including 20 girls,” NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo wrote on X.

“Due to being in contact with chemicals, the skin of many children’s hands has also been burnt. Action is being taken to rescue the children and register” a police complaint, he added.

Police officer Vikas Kumar Shahwal in Raisen said police had opened a case under juvenile justice and bonded labour laws.

In a statement to Indian stock exchanges, Som Distilleries and Breweries Ltd said the concerns were related to a plant run by its “associate private limited company”.

It said that company used labour supplied by contractors who may not have carried out proper age verification for workers.

“That company has extended full cooperation to the authorities regarding the issue and (has) terminated the services of the vendor,” Som said in the statement, without clarifying the services provided by the vendor.

“We want to assure you that all the plants of our company are fully compliant with all applicable laws.”

The Som group makes beer brands such as Hunter and Woodpecker in India. It runs its largest brewery as well as a distillery unit in Raisen district, its website says.

The NCPCR, a federal government agency, said it had inspected the distillery in Raisen after a complaint from child rights activists.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Mohan Yadav said the case was “very serious” and “strictest action will be taken against the culprits”.

District labour officer G S Mehdele said the ages of 59 workers were being verified to determine if they were under age.


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