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Civil Society condemns the savage act of chopping off of hands of bonded labourers and demands quick and stern action

The civil society demands stern action against culprits in Western Odisha who chopped off the hands of two bonded labourers after they refused to go outside the state to work. The two men, Nilambar Dhangada Majhi, 23, and Pialu Dhangada Majhi, 25, of Jaypatna block of Kalahandi district are now struggling for life  at the burala hospital at  sambalpur district. 

Twelve labourers had taken an advance of Rs 15-20,000 each from their contractor.  On learning that they are being taken to a different state, ten of them managed to flee. Angry at their escape, the contractor demanded the two who remained to repay the advance taken by all twelve of them. When the two men pleaded their inability to pay such a large sum, their hands were chopped off leaving them virtually disabled for the rest of their lives in Sinapali at Nuapada district. 

Responding to this, National Human Rights Commission has issued directives this morning to the Chief Minister’s Office and Director General of Police, Odisha government. 

The civil society group Jan Jagran Dadan Sangha, Shramik Adhikar Manch and Vikas sansthan working in Western Odisha, and Actionaid India have demanded the immediate arrest of the labour contractors and that they be brought to justice under Bonded labour abolition Act, 1976 and relevant criminal jurisprudence.  

Condemning the gruesome act and calling for stern action, Sandeep Chachra, Executive Director, ActionAid India said “this inhuman act has once again demonstrated that extreme poverty and the corrupt nexus between contractors and owners of brick kilns in supplying cheap labour across borders must be broken if we want to stop such violation of human rights.” 

“The news is shocking, despicable and intolerable,” said Babu Mathew of National Law University as he demanded for the offence to be considered under Sec 326 of the IPC and called for life imprisonment for the culprit. 

“This horrifying incident has shaken us. The news reports are deeply disturbing. We extend our full support to all members of civil society working towards elimination of all kinds of bondage in Odisha and the two young men,” shared Jai Singh, a well known Dalit rights activist from Punjab. 

Collectives of social action groups and trade unions demand following action:

  1. Chief Minister of Odisha to take immediate and urgent steps to ensure relief, compensation and justice in this most gruesome incident
  2. A fact finding team, comprising judicial body, government, social action group and trade union representatives should be constituted to investigate the situation of migrant workers in western Odisha 
  3. Government and District administration should call trade unions and social action group to work on the protocol to ensure fair, participatory and transparent recruitment process which should be legally binding on the recruiters and recruitment process should be institutionalized.
  4. Action should be taken against all the labour contractors ‘SARDARs’ against whom any complaint is pending.
  5. Principal employers to be held responsible as without their abutment such incidents are not possible.  
  6. Immediate rescue, relief and rehabilitation in the short run and working sincerely towards elimination of all forms of bondage among migrant labours especially in western Odisha.

Editor Note

Together with community based and other social organisations ActionAid India has been working on identifying, rescuing and rehabilitating bonded labours in 8 states of India. ActionAid India is also a part of national level campaign “Bandhua 1947” and working closely in partnership with national and state governments.

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