An eight-year-old boy belonging to a Scheduled Tribe was rescued from bonded labour in Peraiyur in the district and was reunited with his parents on Thursday, after the intervention of Itinerant People’s Association and the police.

A. Muniyandi (8), the second son of Anand (35) and Meenambal (30), a couple belonging to ‘Kattunaicker' community was taken by S. Thangavel of Peraiyur two years ago for employment in his sheep farm. According to Meenambal, her husband fell ill in 2010, which subsequently drove her family to penury. “My husband had seizures and there was no support for my family. That is when he (Thangavel) offered to pay us Rs. 6,000 every month if we send our son to him for employment. Lured by the offer, we sent our son, but we got only Rs. 6,000 for the first month only and were not allowed to meet our son,” said Meenambal. Anand used to collect old saris from the locals in Peraiyur for a living before falling ill.

Muniyandi claimed he was made to walk for 20 km every day for the sheep to graze, but was served only one meal a day. “I was beaten occasionally. I was allowed to take bath once in 10 days only. I was the only child to work there,” he told The Hindu.

Meenambal sought the aid of the Itinerant People’s Association after she was declined permission to meet the boy. “After leaving my son with Thangapandi, our family had migrated to Ilayangudi. We were not given the promised money and when we returned and sought to meet our son, we were declined permission,” she said.

G. Selvam, State president of the association, and K.S. Pandiarajan, its legal advisor, took the issue to Superintendent of Police V. Balakrishnan on whose directions a FIR was registered at the Peraiyur police station on Thursday. Thangavel was booked under section 16 of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976. Muniyandi was produced at the Usilampatti Magistrate Court and his parents were granted custody whereas Thangapandi was taken into police custody.

Advocate Pandiarajan said a representation would be given to the Collector for rehabilitation of the rescued child, otherwise the family might employ him elsewhere.

Meenambal, on the other hand, said she wanted her son to get good education in future.

“I want to go to school and I want to become a doctor,” said Muniyandi after the reunion with his family.

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