Bengaluru

Couple and their five children rescued from brick kiln

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They were working as bonded labourers

The Magadi Road police, with the help of a non-government organisation, rescued a couple and their five minor children who had been forced into bonded labour in a brick kiln in Ramanagara. According to the police, they were brought to Ramanagara nine months ago, but were bonded labourers before that too.

The police, on Friday, filed an FIR against the owner of the kiln under various sections of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act and also for criminal intimidation. “He is absconding and efforts are on to track him down,” said the police.

Inquiries revealed that the family hails from Haveri district. They were initially working in a different brick kiln in Ramanagara whose owner had given them an advance of ₹20,000. Their current employer had allegedly paid some money to their earlier employer and brought the labourers to his brick kiln.

The family told the police that they have not returned to their hometown for the last two years as both owners refused to let them out of the kiln. The couple worked for 14 hours a day, six days a week, with only a lunch break for 15 minutes.

“The couple were told to make over 1,000 bricks a day. They were paid ₹1,000 to ₹1,500 per week. This works out to only ₹83 to ₹125 per day while the minimum wage for a brick kiln worker in Karnataka is ₹455 per day for eight hours of work,” said a member of the NGO .

Four of the children helped their parents. The labourers had to buy their own groceries and cook their own food with their earnings. They were allegedly not provided any facilities, like toilets or electricity, at the brick kiln. They were given a small shed to live in.

“They were allowed to go out once a week to buy groceries, but never together as a family. Only the husband or wife was allowed to go out. On the rare occasion that they both went outside the brick kiln, they had to leave the children behind,” the police said.

When the labourers told the owner that they would like to return to Haveri, they were told that they need to repay an amount of ₹71,000 with interest added to the ₹20,000 advance if they wanted to leave.

Arrangements were under way to send the family back to Haveri.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 9:43:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/couple-and-their-five-children-rescued-from-brick-kiln/article30125563.ece

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