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Bonded labourers abducted: Volunteers for Social Justice

BONDED LABOURERS ABDUCTED FROM VSJ OFFICE

Two bonded labourers – Chand (20) and Davinder (22) from Village Bania, Khadoor Sahib, Distt Tarn Taran belonging to the Mazhabi Sikh caste who were taking asylum at the office of Volunteers for Social Justice were abducted this evening at around 6 PM.

Both Chand and Davinder have stated in their complaint that they have been working since childhood as siri (a form of bonded labour in the agriculture). They were employed by one Gurvail Singh, a landowning Jatt who advanced a bonded debt about a year and a half back which Chand and Davinder used to pay off their debt to their previous employer.

Chand and Davinder have stated that they were made to work in the agricultural farm in slavery like conditions – no proper wages, no leave even during sickness – penalty if any leave taken – no freedom to leave employment. All this until their debt advance had been satisfied which kept piling up in spite of them working day in and day out. Beaten, abused and threatened with false cases against them, Chand and Davinder got fed up and decided to approach Volunteers for Social Justice to get relief from bondage. They escaped from the employer and came to VSJ office about 2 months back. A complaint was then made to the District Magistrate, the authority under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act. They were terrified to return to their village and continued to take asylum at the transitory rehabilitation centre of VSJ. No action has been taken thus far by the District Administration.

This evening at about 6 PM some unknown persons have abducted Chand and Davinder from VSJ office at Amritsar. The said persons have locked the office from outside. Nothing is known about the current location of the bonded labourers. When a staff member called on the mobile of Chand a man picked up the phone and has said that they are taking Chand and Davinder to the Goindwal police station at Tarn Taran.