PUCL Bulletin, June 2002

Bonded labour in brick kiln
Workers and families held in bondage
People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights

People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, PVCHR has come to know of the existence of a large number of Bonded labourers along with their wives and children being held in bondage by a brick kiln owner and subjected to inhuman beatings, torture, and death threats when they ask for their wages, and when they oppose the sexual exploitation of their women family members. On the 10th of April 2002, four Bonded Labourers, named Ansar s/o Sarafhin, Babul s/o Barajhan, Latiff s/o Philuhin Mistry, Mukesh s/o Sheikh Mohd. Farukkh were brought to PVCHR office by one of our activist Ram Prasad.

They narrated their story as detailed below. The four belong to the West Bengal village Kaligram under Police Station Chanchal of District Malda Town. They work as labourers making bricks, which is seasonal job, from November to June. In June 2001 at the end of the season, when they were returning to their village in West Bengal, one Naneh Singh who owns the brick kiln M/s Adarsh located in village Pratap Patti under Police Station Badaganv, Varanasi, told Ansar that he should bring more workers in the next season. Nanhe Singh promised to pay the up and down fare and wages of Rs.130 on every 1000 bricks. In November 2001, Ansar returned with some 30 workers and began working in the brick kiln of M/s Adarsh. They worked from 3 A.M. for up to 13 hours with a small break in between.

Although Nanhe Singh paid them weekly, the amount paid was less than the amount promised. Thus to a family of two he paid weekly Rs.150 and Rs.250 to a family of three. When they complained he threatened to throw them in the burning oven of the Kiln. The workers also complained that Nanhe Singh raped the women folk and when they protested he threatened to kill them. On the 9th of April 2002, at around 4 A.M. some 13 of them fled to a neighbouring brick kiln called M/s Payal Kiln owned by Ramesh Seth, in Village Oondi under Police Station Shivapur, Varanasi. However at around 6 a.m. Naneh Singh accompanied by Munshi Vijay, Dippu Singh and 5 men came in Tata Sumo No: UP 32R-1157, to M/s Payal brick kiln armed with Lathis, Knives, and Guns.

They started beating the 13 labourers who had run away from M/s Adarsh Kiln. When the escaped Labourers started to run to save themselves, the men chased them beating and stabbing. Hearing their screams, the people of the village came out of their homes. Seeing the villagers, the attackers fired warning shots in the air and fled leaving the Tata Sumo behind. Later on, being informed by the Village Watchman the Police of the Shivapur Police Station came and took the Tata Sumo with them. The matter was brought to our notice by one of our activist who brought four of the labourers to PVCHR office.

They informed us that there were some 19 bonded labourers from Malda District of West Bengal still in the kiln. PVCHR informed the DM who instructed the Deputy Labour Commissioner who instructed the ALC to investigate the matter while the SSP instructed the Police Station of Shivapur to intervene. In the meantime the escaped labourers who had taken refuge in our office went back and brought the remainder of the 13 who had escaped in the morning.

At night the Administration raided M/S Adarsh brick kiln and freed the remaining 19 bonded labourers of Malda. The next day he them sent back to Malda after giving them release certificate. On 13th April 2002 we also sent back the 13 labourers back to Malda.

Our Demands

  • Instruct the DM, Varanasi to issue Release Certificate to the 13 bonded labourers who had fled the kiln and taken refuge in PVCHR office.
  • Instruct the DM, Malda District, West Bengal to arrange for Rehabilitation of the freed bonded labourers.

PVCHR is aware that several more Bonded labourers are still in bondage in other brick kilns.
Their names are:
1. Ansar s/o Sarphudin
2. Aathkul s/o Arsad
3. Karim Buddhi w/o Karim
4. Sukuru s/o Karim
5. Kalu s/o Karim
6. Suraj s/o Aathkul
7. Feroz s/o Asthkul
8. Yaseen s/o Yakub
9. Sajekun w/o Yasin
10. Ansari d/o Yasin
11. Minsari d/o Yasin
12. Vaisu s/o Shahid
13. Aasena Khatun w/o Babul
14. Amresh s/o Makbul
15. Sahiba d/o Babul
16. Babul s/o Barjahaan
17. Latif s/o Philuddin Mistri
18. Mukesh s/o Sheikh Mohd. Farukkh
19. Mohd.Ali
20. Afsar
21. Arshad Khatun w/o Afsar
22. Lapo
23. Akhthri
24. Aksema
25. Tasaraf
26. Asoon w/o Tasaraf
27. Asmul
28. Tasleema
29. Topejul
30. Enul
31. Sahdeen,
32. Sonu,
33. Sadeer,
34. Roshan w/o Mukesh
35. Rustam.

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