Jamuna who was 'property' for Rs 2000 is free at last

PAIKAMAL (BARGRAH): Freedom came to Jamuna at long last. Kept confined to a dingy room as ‘surety’ for 48 days by a heartless contractor, Jamuna is now back with her husband Jata Dharua. The only fault of these migrant workers was that they could not pay back Rs 2,000 taken as advance.

Contractor Banku Barik of Belpada kept Jamuna as a surety and asked Jata to arrange the money. After the report appeared in this paper, police intervened and sent Jamuna back to her husband. The contractor has been held and a case registered.

Jata Dharua’s tale of woes is typical of the hell the poor of drought-hit western Orissa is going through.

Drained of all resources in the drought and subsequent marriage of their daughter, the Jata couple had only way out to escape starvation –– seek work elsewhere. Paramananda Bhoi, an assistant of contractor Banku, of Gadgaon village in Paikmal block assured them of job and advance money. Bhoi took 27 migrants from various villages to a brick kiln at Paidapalli in Andhra Pradesh.

Jata and Jamuna came back to Belpada on April 3. But they failed to repay the advance money of Rs 2,000 during their departure to their native Pipalkhunta village. ‘Banku Barik detained me as surety and asked my husband to arrange money if he wanted me back,’ recalls Jamuna.

Jata returned to his village alone and started arranging the huge sum. When he realised it was beyond his capacity, he sought the help of the villagers. A meeting was held and two persons were sent to bring Jamuna back. ‘We requested Banku Barik to release her but he curtly told us to bring the money first,’ said Duan Bariha and Krishna Singh.

Jata then sought the help of Paikmal police. He went twice to the police station with Pradip Kumar Purohit, leader of Gandhamardan of Surakhya Yuba Parishad. The police did file a complaint and asked him to approach the labour court. Paikmal OIC Durga Prasad Behera, however, later denied that he told Jata to go to the labour court and instead advised them to file a case with Belpada police station.

After the report appeared in this website's newspaper, Belpada police called Jamuna’s nephew Garga Netan from Tara village and freed her. ‘Both police and Banku Barik sent me to my father’s house with my nephew,’ said Jamuna, adding ‘Barik met me later and promised to give a costly saree and lungi if I did not reveal anything to police. But I told the police all and even showed the place where I was kept confined.’

Gandhamardan Surakha Yuva Parishad leader Pradip Purohit said 10 of the 27 migrants have not returned from Andhra Pradesh and sought intervention of the State Government.

Former minister and Congress MLA Prakash Chandra Debta said the State Government has failed to provide works to drought-affected people and that’s why a large number of people are migrating to Andhra Pradesh.

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Referred by: Mukundan CM
Published on: June 4, 2001
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