Authorities free 39 bonded labourers from a stone quarry

Mangalore: 39 persons, who had been held as bonded labourers illegally for more than 8 years by a private stone quarry owner in Dakshina Kannada district, were rescued on Wednesday following a raid by authorities.

Following a complaint from a Bangalore based NGO, International Justice for Commission, authorities raided the quarry at Ukkuda village, owned by Abdul Haji where the group was living in appalling conditions.

Dakshina Kannada District Assistant Commissioner Prabhulinga Kavalakatti, who took the help of police to raid the quarry, told reporters some families from Mysore and Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu had been working as bonded labourers for more than 8 years.

The quarry owner had forced them to live in a shed and did not provide any basic facilities like toilet, he said.

Naveen, a resident of Mysore who was working along with his wife and eight year-old daughter,said they were made to work from 7am to 7pm for a payment of Rs 150 per week and two kg of rice.His daughter sustained a fracture after falling in the quarry, but never got treatment, he said.

Shivakumar of Krishnagiri, who has been working for about five years, alleged that the owner used to assault those who demanded money or medical treatment.

Mahadev, who hails from Kanakapura in Bangalore Rural District, narrated the plight of his fellow labourers to his relatives when he returned home for eye treatment.

Mahadev's relatives informed the NGO, which visited the spot, made enquiries and later lodged a complaint with the district administration.