The NHRC Issues Notice to Maharashtra Over 11 Bonded Labourers in Osmanabad

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he National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that 11 labourers were kept chained by the contractor to dig wells and prevent them from escaping in the Osmanabad district of Maharashtra.

New Delhi (ABC Live): The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that 11 labourers were kept chained by the contractor to dig wells and prevent them from escaping in the Osmanabad district of Maharashtra. Allegedly, they were forced to work for twelve hours a day without any wages to dig a well. They got food once a day and were forced to answer nature’s call, inside the well itself. Reportedly, they were rescued on 17th June, 2023 after one of them managed to sneak; reached his village in the Hingoli district of the state and informed the Police about the torture.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, amount to a grave violation of the human rights of the labourers. Mere rescue by the police and arrest of some of the accused in this case is not going to serve the purpose. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Maharashtra calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. It should also include the status of the investigation being conducted in the case, action taken against the perpetrators and steps taken/ proposed to be taken to ensure that such incidents do not recur in future anywhere in the area.

The Commission has further observed that the Provisions of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 have been grossly violated by the contractor in this case. The incident clearly indicates the failure of the local administration to safeguard the labourers from such brutality committed upon them by the contractors, without any fear of the law. The officers who failed to do their lawful duty are required to be dealt with as per law.

It is necessary for the administration to start proceedings as per labour laws in the case to ensure the proper release of all the labourers and to ensure that relief and rehabilitation laid down under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 is provided to the victims, without any delay. It is also required on the part of the District Magistrate, Osmanabad to ensure strict compliance of the labour laws for the safety and security of the labourers working under contractors in the area.

According to the media report, carried on 21st June, 2023, these labourers were deployed by the contractors 2-3 months back to dig well in Khamaswadi and Wakharwadi villages under Dhoki Police Station limits in Osmanabad. Reportedly, the contractors were habitual in deploying these tactics while engaging labourers for three-four months in such tortuous conditions that when released, they preferred running away without asking for wages to escape more torture.


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