Bonded labourers from UP, Bihar given drugs to get more work from them: MHA to Punjab
The ministry of home affairs (MHA) has written to Punjab government, asking it to look into a “serious problem” of bonded labourers working with the farmers in the border villages of the state, people familiar with the development said.
These bonded labourers, belonging to poor family background and remote areas of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, are hired by trafficking syndicates from their native place to work in Punjab on the promise of good salary, only to be exploited, paid poorly and meted out inhuman treatment, according to the letter written by MHA to Punjab chief secretary and DGP on March 17. HT has reviewed the letter.
The ministry said bonded labourers “are often given drugs, for making them work for long hours in the fields, which adversely affects their mental and physical condition”.
“Keeping in view the multi-dimensional and overwhelming enormity of the problem, which involves human trafficking, bonded labour and human rights violation, you are requested to look into the matter and take appropriate measures to address the serious problem,” the ministry said, while asking the state government to give an action taken report on the matter on “priority”.
The MHA has also marked the matter to Union ministry of labour and employment, asking it to issue suitable instructions to all states – especially Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha — for generating awareness among the masses, at various levels of the states, to ensure that poor and vulnerable victims are not duped by unscrupulous elements with false promises for better job prospects and remuneration etc.
The details of the disturbing trend have been shared on the basis of people apprehended from border villages of Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Ferozepur and Abohar in Punjab in 2019 and 2020. The Border Security Force (BSF) apprehended 58 Indian nationals from the border areas of these districts in these two years.
“During the course of questioning, it emerged that most of them were either mentally challenged or were in feeble state of mind and have been working as bonded labourers with farmers in border villages of Punjab,” the MHA letter reads.
The BSF, according to the MHA, usually hands over such rescued persons to the local police for further necessary action.