A nine-year-old Dalit boy who allegedly suffered two years of physical abuse was rescued from the bondage at a village near Karaikudi on Sunday.
Acting on information given by Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO, revenue department officials saved the boy, who was from Indira Nagar in Karaikudi, after they raided a cattle shed at Silukkupatti where he was allegedly made to work for 20 hours a day. The boy was handed over to his parents.
The officials gave the boy’s parents Rs.1,000 as the first instalment of Rs.20,000 compensation guaranteed under the Bonded Labour System Abolition Act.
It has been alleged that Kaaleswaran, a caste Hindu from the same village, had got the thumb impression of the boy’s father, Anand, who repairs old utensils, on a blank paper when he was drunk. Kaaleswaran allegedly used the paper as a promissory note stating that Anand had borrowed Rs.60,000 from him. When Anand denied having taken a loan, the accused threatened to lodge a police complaint, and took his son into his custody.
“I was living in a shed, where nearly 200 goats were accommodated. They served me leftover food thrice a day and never paid any wages,” the boy said. “Kaaleswaran used to abuse me every day,” he added.
It is said that several attempts made by the boy’s parents to rescue him in the last two years proved futile as they too were physically and verbally abused every time they visited him. “We were scared that Kaaleswaran might kill our son, if we approached the police,” said the boy’s mother, Meenambal.
A Dalit activist from Silukkupatti informed the NGO on Saturday of the plight of the boy. A team rushed to the village and alerted the authorities. Kathir, executive director of Evidence, urged the State to provide relief to the boy and his family.
Police have registered an FIR against Kaaleswaran and are on the lookout for him.