Hundreds of rescued bonded labourers staged a bare-chest protest here on Tuesday demanding that the government release the compensation due to them.

More than 400 rescued bonded labourers from Pavagada in Tumkur district have been waiting for relief for the last six years, said K. Nagaraju, president of Jeeta Vimukthi Karnataka (Jeevika), a non-governmental organisation working for the welfare of bonded labourers.

Though the government had identified 403 bonded labourers from Pavagada taluk and issued relief certificates, they are yet to get the compensation. “Fifteen of the 403 bonded labourers are dead and the rest of them are on the streets without any work or money for two square meals.” While the government is delaying the compensation amount to the rescued labourers, the landlords and contractors are denying them jobs, forcing them to beg on the streets, Mr. Nagaraju said.

As per the rules, the State government should pay Rs. 1,000 on the spot soon after the rescue of the bonded labourers and Rs. 20,000 after the authorities concerned issue relief certificate (to officially confirm the person as bonded labourer). But neither has compensation been given nor has the government made any efforts to rehabilitate them, Mr. Nagaraju said.

The association demanded that the government provide vocational training for the rescued bonded labourers.

‘More than 400 rescued bonded labourers have been waiting for compensation for the last six years’