42 bonded labourers saved, 11 arrested

TIMES OF INDIA

MADURAI: Madurai district police have busted a pan-India gang which is involved in illegal human trafficking. The gang has been sourcing people from Tamil Nadu and supplying them to states such as Maharashtra, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh as bonded labour for snack factories. Eleven offenders were secured and 42 bonded labourers aged between 11 and 40 were rescued and brought to Madurai. Most of them are psychologically traumatised and were found in tattered clothes. They hail from Madurai, Theni, Dindigul, Tiuchi and other districts.

Talking to the media, DIG N Bala Nagadevi said on receiving complaints from Madurai and other districts, the police formed special teams to nab the traffickers. “As per our instructions, three teams went to Maharashtra, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. Eleven offenders including the kingpin Sayyad Mohammed were secured. The modus operandi of the gang under him normally approached youngsters stranded at railway stations and bus stands. They promised the children saying they would be given good food and accommodation. After beguiling them, the gang pushed them into slavery at snack factories”, the DIG said.

SP Asra Garg said a few days ago, he received a complaint from G Jothimuthu who was working as bonded labour for more than 10 years and escaped from a snack factory at Maharashtra. According to his father, he thought his son was missing and was no more. Jothimuthu readily came forward to show where the snack factory was located and helped the police nab the other accused. Later, the police deputed a team to nab them from factories named Mool in Chandrapur district and Kot Samoshi in Gadiracholi district and rescued 17 bonded labourers.

Another team spotted a snack factory near Bhvanipattinam, Galagandi district, Odisha, where four were rescued. In Agra, 25 bonded labourers were spotted and rescued.

Garg added that 26 of them had been taken without the knowledge of their parents. Those who hailed from Madurai districts set up snack factories outside the state and approached brokers to get cheap workforce. They paid a mere Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 to them as advance and kept the labour without any payment at the factories.

Muthumani, one of rescued children who was in Agra, said her father was a ganja seller and was very often caught by the police. “My mother went to live with someone else. I studied up to 5th standard at Periaykulam. But my mother told me to go with the broker to work in a muruku company. Initially, I saw an exchange of Rs 5,000. Later on, I was herded to a place totally unfamiliar. There I was forced to work from morning to night without a break for three months. I wanted to live with my father and younger brother and study… Who will help us?”, he said.

42 bonded labourers saved, 11 arrested

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