Four more silk weavers lose sight...

Four more silk weavers lose sight...

...while Labour dept turns a blind eye to the tragedy

Four more silk weavers lose sight...

The victims –– Abdul Razak, Mohammed Rahamath Ullah, Shafi Ahmed and Narayana, were working at the silk-weaving unit in New Masjid Mohalla here.

Recalling the accident, Ahmed said as soon as they put the raw silk yarn, which was brought from Bangalore, into the spindle and turned on the machine, there was a pungent chemical smell. “Immediately, our eyes started to burn and tear up. Within seconds, there was swelling and our vision blurred,” he said. The four were provided with first aid and were shifted to hospitals in Bangalore, where they learnt that they had lost their vision.

It is alleged that the silk smuggled from China is sprayed with chemicals to increase its weight. “Unaware of this, we have lost our eyesight while trying to earn a livelihood,” said Abdul Razak, fighting hard to hold back tears welling up in his eyes.

Just three months ago, five workers from Nanjundaswamy silk-weaving unit in Kalya Bagilu had also lost their eyesight in a similar accident. So did weavers working in silk-weaving units belonging to Mohammed Ghouse and Dayanand on Hosahalli Road, just six months ago.

Despite the frequency of these accidents and the rampant smuggling of China silk, it seems the Labour Department has turned a blind eye towards the issue. Families of the victims even allege that the officials of the department get their share for “remaining blind”.

Ironically, even after realising the risks involved in working in these units, people in this region are obligated to return. Silk weaving units are the only form of industry in Magadi, making it the sole option for earning a livelihood.
In addition, the profit margin earned by using this smuggled silk lures them to stay on in the profession.

Families of the victims want a permanent solution to the problem. They want the district administration to ensure that owners of silk weaving units have access to regular raw silk. Further, they want all the units to be registered and government benefits to be extended to weavers. The families also legal action to be taken against middlemen who aid in the smuggling of China silk.

Anwar Pasha, a member of the Popular Front of India, adds that voluntary organisations and the Human Rights Commission should take note of the atrocities being committed against silk weavers here and should come forward to help them.
“Public memory may be short, but we have been handicapped for life. This has to stop,” say the families of the victims.
DH News Service