Revenue officials from Puducherry rescued 10 persons, including a child, of the Irula community who were employed as bonded labourers in a sugarcane farm in Andhra Pradesh.

Senthamilselvan, Bhaskar, Jayamoorthy, Valarmathi, Azhagar, Shekar, Shaktivel, Rani, Kalyani and 5-year-old Vijay, all from Earipakkam near Bahour in Puducherry, were employed in a sugarcane field in Illathur in Andhra Pradesh.

Speaking to The Hindu, District Collector S.B. Deepak Kumar said the issue came to light following a complaint by a local NGO. On December 12, a team of officers, led by Bahour Tahsildar Dayalan, went to Andhra Pradesh to investigate the complaint.

Preliminary investigation revealed that these people were employed as bonded labourers. A person who employed them admitted to having engaged them for repayment for loans they had taken. The government would be working out ways to provide alternate employment for them, the Collector said.

According to sources, the persons employed by Sakkarai Raja were roped in by one of the residents of their village. They were lured with loans by people who were in charge of recruiting labourers.

Speaking to The Hindu, Senthamilselvan said middlemen would come to Earipakkam in the dead of the night and target those who took loans.

The workers would not be told where they were being taken. The labourers would be allowed to return only before Deepavali for five days. They were not given leave even someone in the family fell ill or died, he said.

“We got fed up with the situation and called K. Ramkumar from the Pondicherry ST Federation and told him about our troubles,” he said. According to Mr. Ramkumar, he received the call on December 10 and he informed the authorities of the conditions in which they were working.