Workers Rescued from Bonded Labor in Maharashtra.

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Escaping from Captivity: Tales of Torture and Desperation

Bhagwan Ghukse, along with six other daily-wage workers, managed to escape from a shanty where they had been held captive for a month. Initially hired to dig wells in Maharashtra’s Osmanabad district, they were forced into bonded labor, a practice prohibited in India. The workers endured inhumane living conditions, including physical abuse, drugging, and extensive manual labor with little sustenance. Chained to tractors at night, their attempts to escape were met with further punishment. Ghukse decided to make a break for it, twisting the lock on his feet’s chain until it finally broke free.

The Perilous Journey to Freedom

Emerging from the compound, Ghukse found himself in a vast sugarcane field, unaware of his exact location. Determined to return home, he followed a nearby railway track, running tirelessly. Eventually, he reached his village and alerted the police about the torture he had endured. As a result, 11 other workers were rescued from separate wells operated by the same contractors.

Conditions of Exploitation Revealed

Investigations uncovered the horrifying ordeal the workers had faced. Forced to work up to 14 hours a day digging wells, they were subjected to physical and mental torture. Denied proper facilities, they had to relieve themselves inside the wells they dug. Their eyes and feet were covered in blisters and deep wounds, some requiring hospital treatment. The police have charged seven individuals, including two women and a minor, with crimes such as human trafficking, kidnapping, abuse, and wrongful confinement.

The Grim Reality of Deceptive Practices

The victims were impoverished daily-wage laborers who had come to Ahmednagar in search of employment. They were lured by an agent promising work on the wells with three meals a day and a daily wage of 500 rupees. However, upon agreement, they were drugged and transported to different locations where their phones and documents were confiscated. After months of appalling conditions, the workers were released without any payment.

Seeking Justice and Rebuilding Lives

The families of three laborers alleged that the police had initially refused to investigate their missing persons’ complaints. Although the police have acknowledged their failure to act promptly, progress has been made. The National Human Rights Commission has intervened, directing the authorities to provide relief to the workers under the country’s labor laws. As the victims attempt to rebuild their lives, they remain hopeful, finding work in their villages while waiting for improved circumstances.

SOURCE: Ref Image from Newsdrum

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