Bonded labourers freed by NGO


LUDHIANA, FEB 7: Tehal Singh alongwith his wife worked as a bonded labourer to repay an advance of Rs 5,000 until he was rescued by the cruel hand of fate as his leg broke. Thus making him incapable to work and useless for his `owner'. These allegations were made when the People's Vigilance Committee on Bonded, Child and Migrant Labour presented Tehal Singh, along with Ranjit Singh, another `bonded labourer' before mediapersons. Speaking on the occasion, Jai Singh, Chairman of the Committee, said there are several bonded labourers working in various parts of the state contrary to the claims of the authorities. He also alleged that the State Human Rights Commission is constituted of members all of whom are from the same class and caste. Its decisions have been condemned everywhere. He cited a report of Anti Slavery, an international organisation working for abolition of slavery, in this regard.

Meanwhile, while narrating his tale of woe, Tehal Singh, a resident of Rotibasta Singh, near Nabha in Patiala district, said he was sold from hand to hand finally landing with one Pritam Singh where he along with his wife toiled in the fields and were paid Rs 200 per month, a sack of grains annually and daily meals. His wife had taken a loan of Rs 5,000 as advance, he said. He was finally saved when he was hit by a bullock while riding on a cart. His leg was broken making him useless for his employers.

Similarly, Ranjit Singh from Phoosmandi in Bathinda district, alleged that he worked as a bonded labourer with one Gurpreet Singh. When he escaped from there, the landlord filed case against him claiming Rs 92,000 pending against him.

Jai Singh, who said the committee was fighting the case and alleged that the government inquiries into the case were not being conducted properly

Referred by:Balram Sampla
Published on: February 8, 2001
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