Chennai, July 14: At least 30 bonded labourers, including women and children were rescued on Monday, July 13, from a man who had forced them to collect earthworms in Gummidipoondi in Tiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu. The labourers who belonged to Irula community were in bondage for more than five years.
The rescue operation was carried out by revenue district officials and police, based on a message passed by a non-governmental organization. Most of the labourers are natives of a village near Kalpakkam.
According to officials, the man who hired them had loaned Rs 10,000 to each family and in order to repay the loan amount, he made them work for over five years.
"Though daily wages were promised to the labourers, the employer didn't keep the word and exploited them. He has also threatened the labourers by saying that a complaint will be filed against them if they tried to leave the work spot," said M Narayanan, revenue district officer.
Shockingly,the youngest of the labourers was seven years old.
"We found the labourers were working and were covered in mud when we rushed to the spot," Narayanan added.
The labourers were made to work in Ooranambedu in Minjur, Venadu in Andhra Pradesh and Madugal kuppam in Gummidipoondi. The earthworms were sold to local prawn hatcheries.
An FIR has been filed and the officials are in search of the man who forced them into work.