A family of nine that was forced into bonded labour and human trafficking at a farm in Marlawadi village in Kanakapura was rescued by the authorities on Tuesday.
The family was brought to the farm four years ago after being promised a payment of Rs 65,000 but was eventually paid only Rs 20,000. Thereafter, they received just Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 every month for their sustenance while the prescribed minimum wage for an agricultural estate worker in Karnataka is Rs 304 per person per day, a Ramanagaram district administration official said.
Six children, aged between 4 and 17, worked from 10 am to 6 pm every day and took care of 20 goats and 15 cows, grazing, feeding and milking them. The parents worked from 4 am until 7 pm daily, growing tomatoes and bananas.
"He used to always abuse us by using vulgar words. We were not allowed to return to our village in the past four years, not even for festivals or funerals. My children had no access to education, medical facilities or vaccinations. We were so helpless. I had to help my wife deliver our last two children on the farm. We had no holidays and we weren't fed properly either. I'm happy we're out of this ordeal," said Madappa, the survivor.
A team of the district administration, labour department and the Harohalli police rescued them.
An FIR has been registered against the farm owner at the Harohalli police station under section 370 (trafficking of persons) of the IPC, sections 16, 17, 18 of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, and sections of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016. The police are on the lookout for him.