Jan Sahas rescued 15 Bonded Labourers of Madhya Pradesh who were trafficked to Karnataka state on 20th January, 2015. This rescue operation conducted in collaboration with International Justice Mission, Karnataka CID, Anti Trafficking Unit and local police.
Backdrop of Labours and plight:
Khargone district is one of the most backward districts of Madhya Pradesh where tribal population is significant. Predominantly Bhil, Bhilala and Barela tribe communities are living in khargaon district. During the hunger period (when to when) people migrates to other places, districts and states in search of job and livelihood. Most of these migrant workers are working as construction workers in Jalna, districts of Maharashtra. Likewise, last year 15 people of Barela tribes were working in Jalna district; they finished their job by the end of November 2015 meanwhile contract labour agent called Kokta labour contractor offered them 75 days of work in Karantaka state and gave them advance of 20,000 rupees each. The Labour Contractor assured them that they will be offered same type of work which they were engaged in Jalna district and once work is completed then they are free to go to their homes. Thereafter, these 15 labourer including 4 women moved to Bagalkot district of Karnataka. These labourers did not know that they would get trapped into bondage; their movements would be restricted and treated like a slaves.
Working conditions and exploitation:
These Hindi speaking tribe people neither envisaged language constrains nor realized that it is going to be worst for them moving to another state for the work. The Laboueres were taken to Petlur village of Bagalkot district for sugarcane cutting. They were provided with just tents and even basic necessities of survival. They were forced to cut the sugarcane until the truck trolley gets full even if it is late till evening; anyhow they had to do it. And it was compulsory to start working at 5 am till truck trolley gets full. Owner also appointed eight to ten men to watch them. Even women labourers were followed and watched when they were gone for defecation.
Moreover, Owner also used to beat and abuse them if they fail to complete the work of cutting the sugarcane. Although, labourers promised Owner that they will complete all task sincerely and in returns he should not abuse and physically torture them however the owner continued abusing them.
On several occasions labourers requested the owner that they wanted to stop the work and return to their village but the owner used to ask them to repay advance money which was already paid to them and additional money of 1.45 lakh to the owner; hence laboueres were threatened to work for that owner. So it was a worst situation for all the labourers being in the another state far from the home in bondage and living with the feeling of slave.
Liberation from bondage and dignified rehabilitation:
Jan Sahas team coordinated with SP of Anti Trafficking Unit of Madhya Pradesh and so on order also with Karnataka. Jan Sahas team travelled to Banglore on 14th January, 2015 to reach the place along with Sundarlal (father of one of the bonded labour). With the help of IJM and CID, Bangalore Jan Sahas team was able to trace the location which was at Petlur village of Bagalkot district of Karnataka. On the same day team travelled to that place and identified the labours and rescued all of them.
FIR was lodged under Bonded Labour Act and other relevant Acts in police station against Koktya and Master and legal processes take up for liberation certificate in Tehsil office. Other legal process for rehabilitation and cases were taken up with SP of Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. Electronic and print media has covered the rescue operation and detailed process of liberation of bonded labours.
Finally, Government of Karnataka provided police protection to released bonded labour as well as to Jan Sahas team till State border. Moreover, Jan Sahas team had meeting with Khargone district’s collector, SP, additional SP, Labour officer and media. As a result of that Government of Karnataka provided Release Certificate to 9 labourers including male and female.
Now Jan Sahas team is working on social and economic rehabilitation of the liberated bonded labours by linking to State Rural Livelihood Mission, Madhya Pradesh and also linked to Indira Awas, Land schemes. Also as a provision of Bonded Labour Act, 1976, compensation of rupees 20,000 is under process for released labourers.