Madurai: Five bonded labourers, including two minors from Chhattisgarh who were working at a borewell unit near Achampathu in Madurai, were rescued by human rights activists on Wednesday.
The labourers were found left to work 24x7 at borewell units without sufficient food.
The five, belonging to the scheduled tribe community were promised jobs by agents who had in turn sold them to owners.
“For Rs 8,000-9,000 each person, agents lure such vulnerable tribal youths. They are promised Rs 10,000 salary per month, but that is not paid properly, forcing them to work continuously,” said Philomin Raj, a human rights lawyer working with the Madurai-based NGO Institute of Development, Education, Action and Studies (IDEAS).
Just before lockdown began, when they were working in Kerala, they wanted to return to their native and demanded payment for their work.
However, it was refused and they were brought to Tamil Nadu.
“During the past five days, they were forced to work for several hours in borewells. They were also being given only meagre food of rice and dal. They were also paid only around Rs 1,000 per month in the past nine months,” said Raj.
“We rescued several bonded labourers in Alanganallur a few months ago who had suffered a similar fate. We got information about these youngsters from the rescued labourers,” Raj added.
A police complaint has been lodged under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The local revenue divisional officer (RDO) met with the labourers on Wednesday. With legal help, they are now hoping to get full salaries as well as relief amounting to Rs 20,000.