The family, tortured verbally and physically for four years, now hopes to go back to their home in Krishnagiri and send their kids to school.

Slavery 50 kms from Bengaluru Rescued family recounts horror at farm
news Crime Saturday, June 30, 2018 - 13:04

“I performed the delivery of two of my children since the owner did not allow us to go to the hospital for delivery. He didn’t give us money either,” says Madappa.

Forty-two years after the bonded labour system was rendered illegal in India, a family of eleven was on Tuesday rescued from a farm in a village near Kanakapura in Ramanagara district, Karnataka.

Madappa (45) and his wife Kenchamma (35) hail from the Denkanikottai village in Krishnagiri district, Tamil Nadu. It was in 2014 that the couple and their seven children were brought to the farm, lured with an opportunity of a decent job and good money. Since then, they have not seen their village or the ‘agent’ who brought them here.

“He came to our village looking for people who needed jobs. We fell into his trap and he brought us here. We haven’t seen him since then,” says Madappa.

Lured by a promise of Rs 65,000 as payment, they were initially paid Rs 20,000 on reaching Ramanagara. They were paid Rs 500 to Rs 1000 every month, with which they had to take care of their household expenses and feed their family of 11.

The owner exploited their labour and forced them to work from 4 am to 7 pm on all seven days of the week. They were not allowed to visit their home back in Denkanikottai. Their children were not allowed to go to school.

“My brother-in-law died some time ago and I wanted to visit my village with some money for his last rites. He didn’t allow me saying that he cannot keep giving money for each and every death,” Madappa says.

The couple brought their kids along to Ramanagara since they did not want to leave them all alone in their village. They, however, had to discontinue their studies.

“We stopped their education and brought them here. We asked the owner to give us money to send our kids to school in Ramanagara. The owner refused to give money and said that the kids have to work and not study,” says Kenchamma.

Through the four years that they toiled in the farm, they were subject to verbal and physical abuse. Such was the torture that during Kenchamma’s childbirth, the owner did not give them any money nor did he allow them to go to the hospital.

“She was in pain and we wanted to go to the hospital. He did not give us money, did not allow us to go to the hospital. So I had to perform the delivery with the help of my other children,” he adds.   

Confirming the incident, a senior police officer said, “We received information from the revenue authorities and we led the operation for the rescue of the family. Cases have been registered based on a complaint from the Revenue Department and the Child Welfare department. We are still on the lookout for the owner of the farm for whom the family was working.”

Though a case has been registered against a man named Kusappa, the owner of the farm, the Ramanagara police claim they don’t have too many details on him. A resident of Marlawadi village in Ramanagara district, he went absconding as soon as he knew about the raids.

Speaking to TNM, Sashmeeta, the director for strategic engagements of the organization that coordinated the rescue operation with the police, said, “We have field workers across different locations and they get calls from the people who have already been rescued. This was a similar case and we alerted the revenue authorities who then acted upon this.”

On Friday, the Tahasildar gave release certificates to the family.

Madappa and Kenchamma plan to go back to their village and resume their lives, just like they lived before.

“We will go back to our village and first admit the children back into their school. Our relatives live in quarters provided by the government in our village. We are going there,” says Kenchamma.


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