PUCL Bulletin, June 2002
Bonded Labour in
They belong to very poor families of the village, whose men folk leave their homes during Agricultural off-season, to work outside the State, i.e., in Nepal, Punjab, and Eastern U.P. They do not have land of their own and during Agricultural season they work on the lands of others in return for which they receive food grains as wages. Landowners in this village have lands as large as 25 to 30 Bighas. Due to their extreme poverty and during the Agricultural Off-season they go out of the villages for extra money. It was in one such venture that they arrived in Badohi where some of their relatives and fellow villagers were working as Rickshaw pullers and Carpet labourers. In the first 10 to 15 days they worked in odd jobs at Rs.60.00 per day with food. Every day they assembled in a local labour market called Katra Bazaar.
One day one Om Prakash arrived looking for labourers having knowledge of Carpets. He is a contractor who obtained Carpet orders from big companies, prepared and finished the carpet in his premises and returned the ready carpet to the Company. He promised to pay them Rs.100 per day, that their salary would be paid on the 2nd of every month and they would be provided food and lodging. In return they worked from 6 am to 6 pm without any holiday. Before 6am and after 6 pm they also prepared and fed the owners cows. In November 2001 when they asked for their October Salary Om Prakash told them that they would receive the total when they leave for home. On Saturday, the 23rd March 2002, in the evening around 5.30pm they informed Om Prakash that they would be leaving for their village the next day for the coming Holi and Muharram festivals and that he should pay them.
Om Prakash said that he had not been paid by the company and hence was not in the position to pay them. The labourers had known from other contractors in the locality that the company had already made payment. When this was pointed out to Om Prakash who was already drunk he became very angry, warned them that they can't leave the work and threatened them. He then called one of them, Mahadev Gupta, to his underground Carpet Storage room where he started beating Mahadev with iron rod due to which he sustained injuries on the chin. Mohd. Ayub on seeing the beating ran, followed by Mahadev Gupta, and Mohd. Vashi.
owner caught Mohd. Vashi, beat him with shoes and lathi on the back and
punched him on the mouth, breaking his teeth, and also on the chest. The
owner followed them but the three managed to reach their Rickshaw puller
friend Suresh's home some 2 km away and related to him the incident. Suresh
having known of PVCHR brought them to our office.
The Bonded Labourers