The police were acting on a tip-off from IJM, an NGO working against bonded labour.

61 bonded labourers including 52 minors rescued from jewellery-making units in Chennai
news Bonded Labour Saturday, September 07, 2019 - 09:43

The Chennai Police rescued 61 labourers, including 52 minor boys from illegal, forced labour in the city’s jewellery units on Friday.

According to a Times of India report, of the 61 rescued labourers, 17 boys were under 14 years of age and 35 boys were between 15 and 18 years. The remaining labourers were between 18 and 22 years of age. All the 61 labourers belong to West Bengal and were made to work in at least five gold jewellery-making units on Wall tax road and in Kondithope for around six years.

The rescue mission was initiated on a tip-off by International Justice Mission (IJM), an NGO working to rescue bonded labourers. The teams were led by Maglina, the Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police, Crime against Women and Children wing along with Rayappan, the Assistant Commissioner. The teams began their searches simultaneously at the units at around 11.30 am on Friday and the searches lasted for around two hours.

The rescued minors are in the custody of Child Welfare Committee, which is yet to file an FIR against the owners of the jewellery making unit. According to the Times of India report, the rescued labourers were made to work for 14 hours every day in the jewellery making units. Preliminary inquiries also reportedly revealed that the families of the boys rescued had borrowed money from the owners of the jewellery making units as advance. They were housed in small units in which they had to work, cook, eat and sleep. Their work involved different aspects of making jewellery like melting and polishing gold, according to a report in New Indian Express.  

The rescued boys have been sheltered in a home in Royapuram and are being questioned by officials of the Departments of Industrial Safety and Health, and Child Welfare Committee. FIR will be finalised and registered only after Revenue Divisional Officer finishes his inquiry and issues release certificates to all 61 labourers. 

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