PUDUKKOTTAI -A total of 48 bonded labourers belonging to the tribal ‘Irula’ community were rescued by revenue officials here on Saturday, following a complaint lodged by the Adivasi Solidarity Council.
According to sources, a team of revenue officials led by C Muthumari, RDO of Pudukkottai, conducted surprise raids at Keezhathur village near Alangudi, following on a complaint received from the Vellore District Adivasi Solidarity Council, about bonded labourers working in sugarcane fields near Alangudi.
The complaint said that a few members belonging to the Irular community were forced to work in sugarcane fields as bonded labourers, under the control of one Pandurangan for the past over 30 years.
Pandurangan sent them to various places as agricultural coolies, under a supervisor. They were paid only Rs 20 and a few kgs of rice as wages, besides Rs 4,000 – Rs 5,000 per year for their work.
Muthumari raided the sugarcane fields in Keezhathur village near Alangudi and found the bonded labourers. They were later rescued from the fields and taken to the government higher secondary school at Vadakadu, around 8.30 pm on Saturday, where revenue department officials interrogated them and collected various details about their work and situation.
Kanniyappan, State Co-ordinator, Adhivasi Solidarity Council, speaking to Express said all the rescued tribes were natives of Palliyanelur in Villupuram district. They were kept as bonded labourers by one Pandurangan of Villupuram, district for over 30 years. He used to send them to various places for agricultural work across the State under the watchful eyes of his representatives, who monitored their movement and work.
Pandurangan pretended to be a labour contractor, and collected their wages from employers directly, providing the former only a meagre amount as wages. Pandurangan managed to escape from the spot during the raid. The rescued labourers are expected to be sent back to their native place on Monday.