Raju claims to have been working in Jose’s 17-acre field, without being paid his salary for the past eight months.

Keralas migrant irony Harassed unpaid labourer rescued by state police
news Human Rights Saturday, October 29, 2016 - 19:18

Malayalam writer Benyamin’s novel ‘Goat Days’ narrates the story of a Malayali labourer in the Middle East who was tortured and trapped in the Gulf. Most gulf migrant labourers from Kerala usually had a similar story to tell. Ironically, Kerala has itself turned into a sort of Gulf for migrant labourers from other states, with even the torture being an authentic part of their ‘Gulf’ experience.

Speaking to The News Minute, Raju -a migrant labourer from Jharkhand- recalls his horrendous eight months’ experience at the hands of his Malayali employer on a farm in Thrissur:

“Initially he gave me some money, but soon stopped. After I continuously begged him, he gave money just to buy food. If I ever asked for salary, he used to hit me on my chest.” 

Raju was made to stay in a shabby shed -made of tarpaulin- right in the middle of the paddy field for the last eight months. “During the rains, my only prayer was that it should not rain at night, otherwise I would get soaked and would not be able to sleep,” recounts the 25-year old migrant labourer, now seated in the security that the Wadakkancheri police station had to offer.

“Last month when I again asked him for my salary, he hit me on my chest so badly that I could hardly work for the next three days. It is still painful on touch,” he shudders.

It was on Friday that Raju’s ordeal finally came to an end, when the Wadakkancheri police along with the representatives of the Thekkumkara panchayat visited the place where Ramu stayed and rescued him from the clutches of Jose -his cruel employer.

Raju claims to have been working in Jose’s 17-acre field, without being paid his salary for the past eight months.

“When we reached the place, the condition was pathetic. The shed was made of tarpaulin, offering no security to its occupant. Snakes and other reptiles are commonly seen in the fields. He hardly slept, fearing these. He was struggling to live without money,” says Wadakkancherri sub-inspector Krishnan Potty.

The police have filed a case, after escorting Raju to the station. “He has been staying at the police station since Friday. Investigations have begun. The panchayat will soon arrange some kind of rehabilitation for him,” Potty adds.

Raju reportedly reached Kerala a year ago in search of a job, encouraged by tales of attractive daily wages in the state. “Many of my friends in Jharkhand keep talking about how we get around Rs 600 to Rs 700 as daily wages in Kerala. Since it seems a decent amount, I landed here so that I could earn some money to send back home to my family. But not only did I not get anything here, I was even unable to escape and return home, as I did not have any money,” he cries.

The police affirm that Jose will soon be arrested. Mk Sreeja -Thekkumkara panchayat president- remarks that those bestowed with even a slight conscience will find it a horrible experience to listen to all that Raju had to suffer: “He stayed at such a pitiful place. He was also physically tortured. We will take all necessary steps to rehabilitate him at the earliest.”

 

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