Bhopal: A boy died after his bonded labour parents were physically barred from taking him to hospital by some upper-caste men. This has happened in Guna district of Madhya Pradesh. According to sources, the accused had allegedly trapped the family into bonded labour since past five years for merely Rs25,000.
Five years ago, father of the deceased, Pahalwan Singh had borrowed Rs 25,000 from an upper-caste man. Ever since he and his family has been trapped in bonded labour at the farm of the accused.
The sources said that the 8-year-old Deshraj was unwell for the past one week. The parents asked the owners for some money for his treatment, but they were brutally beaten up by the accused.
Pahalwan Singh belongs to Sahariya scheduled tribe. Somehow he managed to escape from the place, and lodged a complaint with the police, but no action was taken.
However, the family is now waiting for justice, unpaid wages and documents, including release certificates.
Release certificates are mandatory for bonded labourers to obtain rehabilitation benefits under various government schemes. Without the release certificate they are remain vulnerable to continued exploitation.
Rehabilitation of bonded labour
In 2016, the then Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya had also committed to rescuing 1.84 crore bonded labourers by 2030.
A Centrally Sponsored Plan Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labour has been operational since May 1978. The scheme aims at assisting State governments in rehabilitating bonded labourers.
On May 17, 2016, the Central government renamed the scheme as ‘Central Sector Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourers 2016’.
Under the scheme, financial assistance has been increased from 20,000 to Rs 1 lakh for adult male beneficiary, 2 lakh for special category beneficiaries such as women and children, and 3 lakh in cases of extreme deprivation or marginalisation such as transgenders, women or children rescued from ostensible sexual exploitation or trafficking, in cases of differently abled persons, or in situations where the district magistrate deems it fit.
The Government had amended the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 through a notification on April 14, 2016.
Debt bondage happens to be India’s most common form of slavery.