The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has found cases of child labour after inspecting Som Distilleries and Breweries’ country liquor making unit in the Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh.

Over 50 children were found working in the manufacture of liquor, including 20 girls, NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo says in a post on X.

The NCPCR team that rescued child labourers found burn marks on their hands.

“The factory is run under the supervision of the Excise Department of the Government. The office of the Excise Officer is also located in the same campus. 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 an FIR. Notice is being issued to the government to take action against the excise officer,” Kanoongo says.

The incident came to light on the basis of a complaint received from Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

Shares of Som Distilleries and Breweries, the parent of unlisted country liquor maker, fell as much as 16% to hit a low of ₹105 on the National Stock Exchange (NSE).

In a clarification, the liquor maker said the child labour concerns are not related to Som Distilleries and Breweries but related to its associate Private Limited company which deals in country liquor primarily.

“We wanted to clarify that labour for the associate company is supplied by contractors. It may be the fault of the contractors who may not have got proper age verification done of the workers being allowed to work at that company,” the company says.

“That company has extended full cooperation to the authorities regarding the issue and have terminated the services of the vendor through the directors of that company. We want to assure you that all the plants of our company are fully compliant with all applicable laws and have all the necessary permissions,” it adds.

NCPCR chairperson Kanoongo says there is a shameless competition among the departments responsible for making children work in the liquor factory. “Did the lady officer who was playing this notice-notice game not see the burnt skin of the children? Making liquor by children is a cognisable offence, those victims Give compensation, give back wages, recover from the factory owner, do not remain loyal to him,” Kanoongo writes.

After the incident, Madhya Pradesh chief minister in a post on X says the case of child labour has come to my notice during a raid on a factory in Raisen district. “This matter is very serious. In this regard, detailed information has been obtained from the officials of Labour, Excise and Police departments and instructions have been given for appropriate action. Strictest action will be taken against the culprits,” he says.

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