One frigid afternoon in January 2013, a man approached three brothers playing in a field in Kudiya, a hamlet in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. He had some paying work for them, he said, a loading job, if they were interested.
The Gupta brothers — Amrit Lal, Nakshed, and Akhilesh — recognized the man as Bhola Khan. Khan was in his twenties, and lived with his family in the Muslim quarter of the village. He worked at a local kiln, transporting freshly baked bricks in a horse cart.
Amrit Lal, the oldest boy, was immediately agreeable. At fifteen, he didn't need to be told that the family could use the money. Their father, Jagram, was working on a construction site in Lucknow, the state capital, eighty miles away. Their mother, Jagtapa, toiled in a neighbor's paddy fields. An older sister was still unmarried; a younger sister was only six. The children were enrolled in the local government-run school, where a single classroom housed dozens of students. Everyone was of a different age and level, but they were all made to spend hours reciting the Hindi alphabet by rote. Amrit Lal felt that such an education was a waste of time. It would be better to work and put food on the table.
One father tracked down his children, who had been kidnapped, trafficked to Nepal, and forced to work.