All the 34 persons, including women and children, belonging to eight families, who were rescued by the district administration from a brick kiln unit near Peraiyur on Thursday, left for their home town in Prakasam district, Andhra Pradesh on Sunday evening.
The bonded labourers had been engaged by the brick kiln owner some five months ago. The issue came to light when some of the workers complained of non-payment of wages and alleged humiliation and harassment at work spot. They admitted to having received a sum as advance from the owner, but even after the money was spent, he reportedly failed to pay them. When they turned penniless, some among them pressed the panic button by informing their relatives in Andhra Pradesh, who alerted the officials.
Following a telephone call from Prakasam District Collector, the Madurai District Collector U. Sagayam sent a team to the brick kiln unit and rescued all the 34 labourers. They were lodged at a private kalayana mandapam and were fed for about two days. On Sunday, the workers were handed over to the authorities from Prakasam District, who transported them in a special bus. Through the Adi-Dravida Welfare Department, the bonded labourers, above eight years, were given Rs. 1,000 each as part of a rehabilitation programme, while the children were given dresses, toys and small gifts.
Keywords: Peraiyur bonded labourers