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Battered, Bonded and Trapped: 77 OBC Labourers, Including Minors, Rescued from Brick Kiln in Sirsa

The rescued included 47 children along with 15 women and men each who were kept at Ellenabad village in Sirsa since Novermber, 2018. They complained of violence whenever they demanded money from the kiln owner or wanted to visit their homes.

Aniruddha Ghosal, Rounak Kumar Gunjan@aniruddhg1

Updated:June 22, 2019, 9:49 PM IST
Battered, Bonded and Trapped: 77 OBC Labourers, Including Minors, Rescued from Brick Kiln in Sirsa
Trouble for the labourers is likely to continue as the brick kiln owner has refused to provide pending remuneration unless they withdrew their cases. (News18)

New Delhi: As many as 77 labourers belonging to backward communities, including 22 below the age of six years, were rescued as bonded labourers in Haryana’s Sirsa late on Friday.

The rescued included 47 children, along with 15 women and men each, who were employed as brick kiln workers at Ellenabad village in Sirsa since November last year.

Sunil Kashyap, 22, was one of them. Hailing from Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun, Kashyap said an agent had visited his village late last year and offered him a job. He was also given Rs 20,000 in advance.

“I came to Sirsa along with my parents and a sibling to work as a labourer in this brick kiln. We were promised daily wages but the owner paid us only once in 15 days, barely enough to procure grocery items,” he said.

The workers also complained of violence whenever they demanded money or wanted to visit their homes.

“For the last two months, the owner did not even give us work. When we said we want to go back home, he beat us up. There are two women and some men in the hospital because of this,” added Kashyap.

Manzoor Khan, an advocate in the area, told News18 that several labourers were found injured when they first reached the spot.

Manni Devi, 45, a resident of Kashirampur in UP, said, “We were supposed to produce 50,000 bricks every day. In return, we got paid nothing. The water given to us was dirty and we were staying in dilapidated huts.”

Police conducted raids on Thursday after which an FIR was lodged against the owner under several sections, including 147 (punishment for rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 323 (voluntarilty causing hurt) and 341 (wrongful restraint), of the Indian Penal Code.

Sirsa Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar told News18, “We came to know about the case on Friday. Initial investigation has revealed that it was a case of bonded labour. A case has been registered and further action is being taken.”

The central government is currently considering a new legislation against human trafficking that was earlier passed in the Lok Sabha.

According to The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, "trafficking of person" is categorised under Section 370 of IPC.

“This is a form of migratory bonded labour. Owners send their agents to states where there is a lack of jobs. Seasonal workers are brought to the place of work, where they find the conditions of work and wages are very different from what was promised,” said Dr Shantanu Dutta, spokesperson of the National Coalition to Eradicate Bonded Labour and Human Trafficking.

Most brick kilns had bonded labour and almost 90% of these cases were seldom registered, he added.

Meanwhile, trouble for the labourers did not seem to have ended as the owner of the brick kiln has refused to pay their pending remuneration unless they withdrew their cases.

Currently, the labourers are being sent back to their villages with help from the district administration.

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