Tamil Nadu

Farm owner held for engaging boys as bonded labourers

SIVAGANGA

The district police have arrested a livestock farm owner on a charge of engaging two boys – one of the siblings is aged 7 and the other 5 – as bonded labourers for sheep and goat penning after Child Protection Unit (CPU), Social Welfare and Childline officials rescued them.

The two boys, who were ‘pledged’ to the owner for ₹10,000 by their father a month ago, had been made to stay in the fields with sheep and goats for nearly a month when officials, acting on the direction of Collector G. Latha, rescued them on Tuesday.

Alerted by the people of Vilankulam village in Ilayankudi block, the Collector took swift steps. Subsequently, a team, led by Child Protection Officer Jayaprakash and comprising Muthu and Rajesh, rescued the boys from a field around 11.30 p.m. on Tuesday, the officials said.

The siblings, who looked fatigued, were accommodated in a government home on Wednesday after they were examined at the government hospital, they said.

Ms. Latha visited the boys and offered them new clothes and a bicycle. She directed the officials to admit the boys to a school.

While the 7-year-old boy was studying class II at Ammanichathiram village in Thanjavur district after his mother’s death three months ago, the younger one was yet to join school, the officials said.

Their father Rajendran (35) allegedly sold them to the farm owner in order to marry another woman, they said.

The officials said the two boys were fed only twice a day and they were made to save a portion of their dinner – cooked rice – for breakfast. They would mix water with the leftover food and consume the rice porridge, the officials said.

The police booked the farm owner, Angusamy, his son Anandakumar and Rajendran under the provisions of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, and the Juvenile Justice Act. The police arrested Angusamy and remanded him in judicial custody on Wednesday, while his son is absconding.

A special team had gone to Thanjvaur to arrest Rajendran, the police said.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 3:55:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/farm-owner-held-for-engaging-boys-as-bonded-labourers-sivaganga/article23588635.ece

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