From M Zulqernain Lahore, May 12: A Pakistani court has set free 97 Hindus, including women and children, who had been kept as bonded labourers at a brick kiln in Pakistan's Punjab province for the last four years.
Lahore High Court Justice Atir Mehmood yesterday ordered their immediate release on the petition of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and action against the contractor who detained them. According to the HRCP, one of the bonded labourers, Mohan Bheel, managed to escape from the kiln in Jhelum district to reach the HRCP office.
He told the HRCP that the Hindu family members had been employed by contractor Raja Zafar for working in brick kilns, construction of roads and looking after livestock. "Some of the people died in custody. Children born during the four years were also in custody of the contractor.
We had been recruited on monthly salary but the contractor detained us as bonded labourers and never let us go outside certain areas," Bheel said. He said his wife had died because of lack of medical help and he had brought her body for burial in a village.
Police last Friday raided the kiln and found the detained members of the Hindu community on the complaint of the HRCP. Zafar managed to escape. Of the 97 detained persons, 38 are women and children. They belong to Mirpurkhas district of Sindh province. The Hindu bonded labourers had been employed for Rs 5,000 per month but they had been deprived of salary and health facilities, HRCP said in a statement.