14 bonded labourers rescued

Fourteen bonded labourers, including three girls, from north Indian States, were rescued from two polybag manufacturing units here on Thursday evening.

Acting on a complaint received by Virudhunagar Collector J. Meghanath Reddy, a team of officials led by Assistant Collector, Sivakasi, M. Birathiviraj, raided the Kanmani and Kavitha polybag units. The officials found that children from Odisha, Bihar and Chhattisgarh were employed by the unit, owned by S. Dhanapal (64).

“We have taken the children to the Government hospital to assess their age to verify whether they were child labourers or not. However, enquiry has revealed that they are bonded labourers,” Mr. Birathiviraj, said.

The children were brought by an agent, Naveen Kumar of Bihar. The children were promised ₹8,000 wages per month, but they were not paid salary for the last six months. “They complained that they were just supplied ration, including rice and dal, and not allowed to go out,” the Assistant Collector said.

The children had asked the contractor to allow them to go home to meet their parents but were denied permission. Besides, they were over-exploited and were forced to work for a minimum of 12 hours.

“They had a very poor living condition in a cramped shed within the units,” he said.

The officials have been instructed to book the owner of the unit and the agent under the provisions of Bonded Labourers Act. “After verification of age, provisions of Child Labour Act will also be invoked,” Mr. Birathiviraj said.

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