25 trafficked Indians saved
Nearly 25 workers, including children, who worked 15 hour days for seven years, were rescued at the weekend at Baran in the western Indian state of Rajasthan in a rare crackdown on farms where forced labour is rampant.
Campaigners said the workers were from a tribe in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and were given loans ranging from 500 to 20 000 rupees (R112 to R4 342) before being taken to Rajasthan to work in the fields.
“These people were trafficked from their home state with the lure of good work, but kept bonded on the fields.
“They believed they were repaying the loans,” said Nirmal Gorana, convener of the National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour, that took part in the rescue.
Rescued workers said while they worked in the fields, their children worked at the employer’s house for no money. “The employers did not give them wages, but only packets of wheat. This, too, was to ensure they stayed alive to continue working on their fields,” Gorana said.
There are no national figures on the number of people in slavery in India, but the ministry of labour and employment recently announced plans to identify, rescue and help over 18 million bonded labourers by 2030. –