Bengaluru

Bonded labourers rescued from Kanakapura farm

The couple and their children had been trafficked from Denkanaikottai in Tamil Nadu nearly four years ago.

The couple and their children had been trafficked from Denkanaikottai in Tamil Nadu nearly four years ago.   | Photo Credit: Handout E Mail

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Two children of the Irula couple were born on the farm with no medical help or medicines

After a four-year-long confinement, a family of 11 was rescued from a farm near Kanakapura on Tuesday. Two of the children were born within the farm without any medical help

The couple and their seven children, who belong to the vulnerable Irula tribal community, had been trafficked from Denkanaikottai in Tamil Nadu nearly four years ago to work in the farm for more than 12 hours a day.

Nearly two years ago, the couple had another child, but the owner of the farm refused to let them reach out for medical help. Nearly eight months ago, the woman had to deliver another child in the unhygienic confines, with help from her husband and their 17-year-old daughter.

“We don’t know how we did it. Both deliveries were late in the night, and the owner of the farm did not even give us medicines, let alone call for a vehicle or admit her in a hospital,” the 40-year-old father told The Hindu a day after being rescued.

According to the International Justice Mission, which aided the rescue along with the Ramanagaram district administration and the Harohalli police, the couple as well as six of the nine children — aged between 4 and 17 years — had to work daily without a break between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. They had to tend to the cultivation of tomatoes and bananas, and take care of the livestock. The payment: ₹20,000 per year.

“None of my children were allowed to go to school, or even step out of the farm. They have not seen anything in the past four years apart from cattle and goats. We were threatened when we wanted to leave,” said the father.

Last year, when his mother passed away, he was not allowed to leave. Only after heated discussions was he allowed to leave, but not given money to travel. “I had to walk to my village. By the time I reached, my mother had been buried,” he said.

The Irulas live in abject poverty and face discrimination. Last year, 15 persons from the community were rescued from a goshala in Mahadevapura.

“My first priority is to get the children to school. They should not fall in the traps in which we fell,” said the father.

The district administration has organised a health check-up for the rescued children, particularly as the newborn children have not been given vaccinations or polio drops.

The Harohalli police have registered a case under Section 370 (trafficking) of the Indian Penal Code and sections of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 as well as the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016.

The owner of the farm and two of his family members, who are accused of trafficking and confinement, are absconding.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2019 4:48:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/bonded-labourers-rescued-from-kanakapura-farm/article24272652.ece

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