Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, Oct 3 (UNI) Thousands of labourers hailing from this paddy-rich state were sold by touts at brick kilns in Jammu and Kashmir, SAID five labourers who have returned from Jammu.
The victims were being resold several times there, the labourers told mediapersons here yesterday.
''A tout from Janjgir-Champa district lured people from here in June last by promising better work and then secretly sold 205 people including children for Rs nine lakh to a kiln owner in Bugaon in Badgam district of Kashmir,'' said Rajkumar Deepak of Arona village in Raigarh district.
Pyarelal Diwakar claimed that pressure from the Chhattisgarh government led to their rescue by police from the kiln in such a pitiable condition in which they did not have food and money to return. The entire group was roaming about in Jammu. Some children fell ill and just 22 of the 205 somehow managed to reach here.
''After terrorism spread in that state, the kiln industry became the economy's mainstay and kiln owners emerged as new power centres,'' said Mr S N Gadiya of the Jan Jagriti Kendra that works for central Indian bonded labourers' welfare.
Labourer Tajiram Kurre alleged that his entire family received a mere Rs 300 a week as wages and were watched over even while defecating.
''In recent years, farming and labouring have proved insufficient for sustaining the family and exodus is the sole option,'' said Teejram, who is about 40 years old.