15 workers freed from bondage

15 workers freed from bondage

The Karnataka State Human Rights Commission, along with members of a City-based NGO, rescued 15 bonded labourers from a brick kiln in Channenahalli on Magadi Road , on Thursday.

The labourers were brought to the City from Odisha and Chhattisgarh several months ago. They worked at a brick kiln owned by C K Mahesh and his brother C K Lokesh. Six among the 15 rescued labourers are children, including a one-year-old.

Prasanna, a member of Action Aid, an NGO, said: “A week ago our counterpart organisation in Odisha alerted us about workers being exploited at a private factory in Bangalore.

We visited the spot along with members of South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM) and Association for Promoting Social Action (APSA). After the visit, we reported the matter to Karnataka State Human Rights Commission on Tuesday.”

On Thursday morning, a team comprising officials from KSHRC, Tahsildar (South) Shivappa Lamani and police officials raided the kiln.

Lamani said: “We have rescued all the labourers who were made to work at the kiln forcibly against their will and for a pittance. As the owners of the kiln were not present during the raid, action could not be initiated against them. However, summons have been issued to them to attend an inquiry.”

Suren Patel, one of the rescued labourers, said: “On a referral by agent Subhasini Patel in Odisha, my family and I had arrived in the City several months ago. The agent had promised us jobs at a construction company for a salary of Rs 15,000. Till date, we have not received the promised salary or the employment with a construction firm.

We were forced to work at the kiln for more than 15 hours a day without a break, food or proper accommodation. We were paid a mere Rs 500 per week. The amount was too little to cover even our basic needs. We also had to pay rent for the shacks where we crashed out after hard labour,” he said.

The workers who were rescued during the raid are now with Action Aid.

One of the aides of Mahesh said that they have paid the agent Subhasini a sum of Rs 1,10,000 per individual. “There is no human rights violation as claimed by the NGO and others,” he added. However, when Deccan Herald tried to contact him over phone, Mahesh did not pick the call.

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