The workers were cutting casuarina trees in a granite unit in Chennai and were allegedly not allowed to step out of the property even when their kids took ill.

Ten Irula men and 4 children rescued from bonded labour near Chennai
news Crime Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 09:29

Fourteen men including 4 children were rescued from a granite unit in Muttukadu near Chennai after working as bonded labourers for the past 6 years. The rescue operations were lead by Chengalpet sub-collector V P Jeyaseelan who raided the unit based on a tip off on the plight of the casuarina woodcutters in the unit, a TOI report stated.  

The rescued workers included 6 men, 6 women and 4 children under the age of four. All of them were from the Irula community and came from Poonjeri, a village 23 kms away from the unit, according to a report in DeccanChronicle.

According to the TOI report, these workers were initially approached by a man named Karim Bhai for cutting Casuarina trees sitting on a 60 acre property, in which the unit is located. 

The workers were allegedly forced into bonded labour after they took a loan of Rs. 10,000 from the factory owners. 

“He gave us advance of Rs. 500 each and would pay Rs 1,000 for one ton of wood. As it is quite cold inside the jungle, our kids would often fall sick, but he would not let us go outside. Even the hospital is at least 10 kilometres from the site,” one of the woman workers told DC. 

The workers were also not allowed to step out of the unit during the Cyclone Vardah that wreaked havoc in Chennai in December 2016. The labourers were forced to stay inside makeshift tents into which water from the storm would seep, the report stated.  

The workers have not been taken to the Chengapetu RDO office and search is ongoing for Karim Bai and his associate Veeramani, who ran the granite unit, the report stated.

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