From brick kiln at Kabisthalam in Papanasam taluk

Fifty six bonded labourers including 10 children below the age of 10 were rescued by revenue and police officials from a brick kiln on the banks of Thirumalairajan river at Kabisthalam in Papanasam taluk on Sunday.

The brick kiln belonged to Rajeswari, wife of Kaliyaperumal of Sundaraperumal Koil near Papanasam. Her sons Raja (28) and Swaminathan (30) were said to have been managing the kiln.

All the 56 persons were employed at the kiln as bonded labourers after taking advances from kiln owners. All of them were working there for a year now.

M. Govinda Rao, Sub-Collector, Kumbakonam told The Hindu that he received a petition from International Justice Mission, a non-governmental organisation, about the prevalence of bonded labour system in the kiln. Based on the orders of Collector N. Subbaiyan, an enquiry was carried out by revenue officials. As the enquiry confirmed the prevalence of bonded labour system, a team of officials including A. Arulmozhi, tahsildar, Papanasam, and Sivaji Arul Selvan, Deputy Superintendent of Police, visited the kiln on Sunday and rescued the labourers.

“We have given them relief certificates and an immediate relief of Rs.1000 each. Among the rescued were 23 men and an equal number of women, apart from six boys and four girls. Six of them hail from Thanjavur district, 33 from Ariyalur, 16 from Nagapattinam and one from Cuddalore district. We have taken steps to send them back to their villages,” Mr. Govinda Rao said. The police have launched an investigation and action will be taken against the owners, who were not present at the site on Sunday.

However, two persons at the kiln have been detained for enquiries, Mr. Govinda Rao said.

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