Irula tribals being treated as bonded labourers in duck, paddy farms

The Tamil movie ‘Jai Bhim’ of superstar Surya had depicted the woes of the Irula community of the state who are mainly snake charmers and snake catchers. The movie was based on a real-life incident that led to the death of an Irula man following brutal police torture.

Several members of the community are now working almost as bonded labourers on duck farms and paddy farms in Karnataka and most of them are working for a pittance there.

Sengottayian, an Irula tribal who was rescued by social activists, narrated his ordeal in a duck farm in Karnataka. “My wife and my two children aged 3 and 9 years and I were working in the duck farm from dawn to dusk and we were paid Rs 500 per day. While I had to work in the farm, my wife had to do all the household chores. We were rescued from this ordeal by a group of social workers.”

In another incident two children from the Irula community of Krishnagiri, aged 14 and 12, were sent to Karnataka by their parents to help rear ducks about a year ago and have not returned to their native Bargur in Krishnagiri district as yet.

Arumugam and Malasri of Kamatchipuram had sent their children to a duck rearing farm in Mandya district of Karnataka and the children have not returned since then.

The Irula tribal family said that a person named Shankar had taken their children to the duck farm and had promised Rs 55,000 per child for a year but even after one year the children have not returned. Arumugam told IANS, “I spoke to my children after the intervention of my panchayat president, K. Jayanthi. We were given Rs 16,000 in three instalments and after that, he did not pay us. We want the children back.”

Krishnagiri district child welfare officer, Sivagandhi told IANS, “The parents should file a petition before us, only then can we act.”

When contacted, Krishnagiri district superintendent of police said that the police will act once a formal complaint is lodged.

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