Gadag man freed from Mysuru ginger farms after 6 months

Gadag man freed from Mysuru ginger farms after 6 months

Bonded labourer rescued from Bylakuppe

When Raghu Malleshappa, 38, gave up his job as a computer billing professional and started a job hunt, little did he know that he would be trapped as a bonded labourer for several months to come.

This BCom graduate, forced to be a bonded labourer for nearly six months, who escaped later, recollects what he went through. Malleshappa, a native of Gadag, had a job which got him Rs 1,800 a week. He was a computer billing operator on a regular 9-5 job. All was going well till he had a fallout with his parents.

“Hubballi railway station is a hub for job-seekers. People who have jobs to offer and those seeking jobs meet here. It was during one of these casual meets that I came across a group of men who promised me a job,” he recollects.

READ: About 33.4% labourers are bonded, says study

A daily wage of Rs 350, a decent place to stay and all requirements taken care of were what the “well-mannered” recruiters had to offer the job seekers, in return to working in ginger farms at Bylukuppe in Piriyapatna taluk of Mysuru. 

“A group of 15 of us were taken by train half the way and the other half, we travelled by car,” he said. Ten hours of work on any given day with no exemption even when ill, a limited amount of food thrice a day, a glass of black tea in the morning and just one set of clothes, no money in hand and a life completely cut off from the rest of the world is how he describes his work.

Three men stood guard at the entrance to the farm, not letting any of the workers go out.

“It was during one of those days when they were taking us from one farm to another that I escaped. Fourteen others with me were rescued later,” he said. A complaint was lodged with the Piriyapatna police on September 7 Malleshappa was sent back to Gadag.

“This farm was the land given to Tibetans by the government, which was leased out to local residents,” he said.