On Wednesday, 42 bonded labourers including 16 children were rescued in the state of Tamil Nadu. They were rescued from two wood cutting units in Kancheepuram and Vellore. Acting on a tip-off, the sub-collectors of both the districts visited the site on the same day.
The rescued labourers had claimed that Nataraj of Olungavadi in Kancheepuram is the one who had held them captive. He and his family had kept them under bondage for more than five years. They have been working in wooductting units across the two districts.
The labourers were subject to inhuman conditions. They weren’t fed properly and their movements were restricted. The children were prevented from going to school, despite having aspirations to study.
The tip-off was received from an NGO. A simultaneous rescue operation was conducted to ensure that everyone was safely rescued. According to a source, the bonded labourers were close relatives. The simultaneous operation was conducted to prevent leakage of information.
The operation was conducted by sub collectors A Saravanan (Kancheepuram) and Elambahavath (Ranipet). In Kancheepuram, 27 people were rescued at a wood cutting unit in Konnerikuppam village. In Vellore, 14 were rescued from a wood cutting unit at Paruvamedu village.
A picture of Kasi, one of the rescued labourers, has been shared widely on social media today. Kasi is in his late 60s. On seeing the officials he fell at their feet pleading to be rescued from bondage. He has been working for Nataraj for nearly a decade.
— Sheela Bhatt (@sheela2010) July 11, 2019
Reportedly, they were forced into bondage in order to repay the money that they had borrowed. The families had borrowed money ranging between Rs 9,000 and 25,000.
Last year in December, 52 Dalits and Tribals were rescued from bonded labour in Karnataka. One of the labourers had luckily managed to escape and informed the police. Following which the police had rescued the rest of them.