New Delhi: Forty-year-old Pappu has toiled day and night at a brick kiln in Jammu. He spent days without food and water and was made to work rigourously for three months before being rescued by an NGO.
He along with 55 others were in Delhi today sharing their painful tale.
A city-based organisation Bandhu Mukti Morcha (Bonded Labour Liberation Front) had rescued the 55 labourers, which included 21 women, from the brick kiln contractor in RS Pura sector of Jammu on Aug 27.
The rescued persons belong to different regions like Badaun in Uttar Pradesh, Nayagarh in Odisha and Bilaspur, Jangir and Balodha Bazaar districts of Chattisgarh. They were allegedly purchased on an average advance payment of 15,000-20,000 rupees and were made to toil in pathetic conditions- without proper food, water or medical facilities.
Swami Agnivesh, founder of the Bandhu Mukti Morcha (BMM) said, "This is not happening for the first time, we have had a bitter experience in Jammu and Kashmir. We've been raising this issue for the past two-and-half years.
Nirmal Gorana, Executive Director at BMM, who led the rescue opeartion, claimed that none of the contractors had a licence.
"None of the contractors have a license under the 1979 Migrant Workmen act. There is no record of the wages they are giving out, the number of bricks the labourers are making", says Gorana.
Pappu, who was rescued with his family, recalls that the workers were made to toil from as early as 4 a.M. Till late in the night. No proper food or water was available to them. They were forced to work without pay for three months.
The team at BMM who undertook the rescue operation said that even the National Human Rights Commission is helpless.
"I spoke to officials from NHRC yesterday, told them about these people who have come to me. I was told they can't do anything, it is out of their area of jurisdiction. NHRC is pleading helplessness, say they dont have any authority," said the BMM founder.
Now, BMM is planning to take up the issue of bonded labourers to Supreme Court to curb trafficking of people as bonded labour.