The statements of the 23 “bonded” labourers, who were freed from a brick kiln at Kenchapura in Bangarpet taluk on Wednesday, were recorded by the authorities on Thursday.
The workers, including a child worker, were freed from “bonded” labour from MTB Brick Factory following a tip-off from activists of International Justice Mission (IJM), a Bangalore-based NGO. The activists, who took the workers, hailing from Odisha, to Bangalore on Wednesday, brought them back to Kolar on Thursday morning for an inquiry to determine their status — whether they are bonded labourers or not as defined by the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.
If these workers are issued ‘release certificates’ by a competent authority they will be eligible for compensation under the Centrally sponsored scheme for Rehabilitation of Freed Bonded Labour, Esther Daniel, an IJM activist, told The Hindu .
Additional Deputy Commissioner R.S. Peddappaiah, however, sent them to Bangarpet from here after directing tahsildar S.M. Mangala to conduct an inquiry.
Ms. Mangala recorded their statements at the Inspection Bungalow. The workers said they were denied wages, freedom and other benefits from their employer.
Ms. Mangala told The Hindu that the statements would be submitted to the Deputy Commissioner. “These people were working at the kiln by choice and the question of bonded labour doesn’t arise at all,” she maintained.
Bangarpet taluk Labour Officer Chetan Prasad was present during the inquiry.