47 trafficked bonded laborers rescued from MS Brick kiln Mehsana district of Gujarat
A team led by National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour (NCCEBL) along with district magistrate (Mehsana district Gujarat), Tehsildar, officials from labour department and police carried out a rescue operation on December 26 and rescued 47 bonded labourers. This included 15 women and 17 children among the 47 bonded labourers. NCCEBL had received information of 47 brick kiln workers including women and children in Mehsana district of Gujarat and the same was forwarded to the district magistrate. Convener of NCCEBL Nirmal Gorana said that these workers were forced to work against their will and they have been declined wages of all kinds. These bonded labourers have been working for a continuous stretch of 18 hours a day without any provision of leave. “The team of NCCEBL had received information about these workers and immediately the committee informed the district magistrate to take appropriate action. A committee was constituted by the district magistrate including Tehsildar, officials from labour department, representative from NCCEBL and police to carry out the rescue operation,” said Gorana. “The Gujarat government used to claim that Gujarat’s model of provision of employment to the people was one of the best models but contrarily, this is the real case of exploitation of laborers from the same state. This is a classic case of modern age slavery and if a survey is conducted across the state, at least thousands of bonded labourers will be rescued. As per the rehabilitation policy of the state government, an amount of Rs 4.5 lakh is to be given to every district to carry out the survey. However, the fund is lying unused and no such surveys have been conducted. We demand from the government to take appropriate steps for rehabilitation of these workers and to conduct the survey,” said Gorana. He further added that these labourers are migrant workers from different states and they were deprived of their wages. This is a clear violation of Article 21 and Article 23 of the Constitution of India, which advocates the protection of life and personal liberty and prohibits human trafficking and forced labour. The team of Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) will provide legal aid to the victims. Bonded labour is any kind of labour or service rendered under the bonded labour system, and is illegal in all of its forms. The Bonded Labour System (abolition) Act 1976 provides definitions as to what bonded labour is according to the law. A bonded labour is a worker who incurs or has presumed to have incurred a bonded debt. A bonded debt is an advance obtained/presumed to have been obtained by bonded labourers under or in pursuance of the bonded labour system restrictions in employment and movement, working on nominal or no wages and beggar work.