Revenue officials rescued 50 people, including 24 women and seven children, who have been working as bonded labourers for over a decade in three brick kilns, and arrested three others in this connection from Thanjavur on Thursday. The helping hand from the officials came after they received intelligence inputs from an NGO on the illegal practice. The officers, headed by M Veerasamy, revenue divisional officer, Thanjavur, carried out a raid on a brick kiln in Devangudi village of Papanasam taluk and released the labourers forced to work there as bomded employees to pay off debt.
Sources said NGO SHED India provided the secret information which led to the rescue of the 50. As per the tip-off, the officials first inspected the kiln owned by K Raju alias Poongundran of Devangudi. During enquiry, labourers from a nearby brick kiln owned by P Sekar of Ariyalur and P Mani of Kovilur in Ariyalur voluntarily came out and said that they too wanted to be freed from bonded labour.
All workers are natives of Keezha Pazhur in Ariyalur district. Of them, a 55-year-old woman told the officials that they had been worked at the kiln for nearly 15 years in return for borrowing Rs 30,000 from a brick kiln owner. Despite working all this, their debt was still considered unrepaid by the owner, Veerasamy told. “A kiln employee had committed suicide a few years ago, unable to put up with torture at the kiln. Even after his death, the owner of allege kiln has not left his family alone.
The victim’s adult son was made as a bonded labourer to repay his father’s debt,” RDO said. Besides denying freedom, they were restricted from going out without the permission of their owners. The officer said the hapless workers put to brutal physical assault if they owners catch them violate the self-made rules in kiln. According to revenue inspector Manjula, members of 20 families had been subjected to be bonded labourers. Of them, eight families were with Raju and 11 families with Sekar while the rest are with Mani’s brick kiln, she said. Release certificates with government’s compensation were given away to the labourers.
(source : TOI)