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Panel for early rehab of bonded labourers rescued from Karnataka

Bengaluru, Jan 5 (IANS) An inquiry committee from the National Commission for Women (NCW) on Saturday recommended early rehabilitation of the 52 bonded labourers, including 17 women, rescued on December 16 from a plantation in Karnataka’s Hassan district, about 200km from Bengaluru.

“The district authority should ensure compensation to the labourers from the Central government and the state government should rehabilitate them with housing, vocational training and jobs,” said the panel in a statement here.

The three-member probe panel, headed by NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma, visited Hassan on Friday and met the district officials to ascertain the circumstances leading to their bondage, and action taken against the planter by the authority.

The panel also met two women, two children and four men rescued from the plantation to ascertain the facts and situation that led to their bondage.

The labourers, hailing from different regions, including Andhra Pradesh, were employed in ginger fields at Savankanahalli in Hassan, without basic facilities.

The panel found that the men and women were beaten up regularly as bonded labourers. It also found that a young girl aged 13 was also working on the field and wasn’t going to school.

The plantation managers gave the labourers, including women and children, alcohol and tobacco in between meals at 4 a.m. and 11 p.m. to suppress their restlessness and pain from the beating, the committee found.

“No valid medical tests for the women were conducted after they were rescued,” the panel said in a statement.

The committee, on the occasion, recommended the state to ensure that the police and labour departments are more vigilant and to make sure that education and employment schemes are implemented properly.

“Women-related schemes need to be implemented and should not be only on paper,” the committee said.



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