Bonded Labourers Rescued From Tree Cutting Unit in Tiruttani
By Ekatha Ann John and Manish Raj
Published on March 5, 2014 in The Times of India
Sixteen bonded labourers, including five children, were rescued from a tree cutting unit in Tiruttani.
The labourers, hailing from Kancheepuram and Vellore districts, were rescued by volunteers of the International Justice Mission (IJM) and officials from the revenue division. Following the operation, they were taken to the revenue divisional officer’s office for an inquiry.
The labourers told officials that they had been in bondage for over six years and were forced to live in subhuman conditions and worked for close to 17 hours a day. The families were trapped in bondage after they took advance amount of Rs 2,000 from the unit’s owner.
The RDO has instructed the thasildhar to file criminal complaints against the owner.The RDO gave them release certificates, identifying them as bonded labourers and entitling them to government rehabilitation funds.
All the rescued victims have now been taken to their villages and enrolled in IJM’s two-year rehabilitation programme.
Alice Suganya, director of Casework, IJM said, “The owner restricted the labourers from finding alternate employment which made it impossible for them to repay the advance amount. Their freedom of movement was restricted. One of the labourers was not even allowed to see his five-month-old child.”
According to volunteers who were part of rescue operation, the labourers had lived in makeshift shacks made of sarees, with no roofing. “At the time of rescue, social workers observed that the labourers were living amidst thorny bushes,” said Alice.