Blood bricks

India: Odisha protest after workers’ hands chopped off

Protest in Odisha today

Protest in Odisha today

Poverty is violence. After the recent horrific case of two workers’ having their hands chopped off by labour brokers in Odisha, a protest was held today.

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A peaceful protest was held today in front of Odisha bhawan and solidarity group of bonded labourers would submitted demands to the resident commissioner, National commission for scheduled castes, National commission for scheduled tribes, political outfits and Ministry of labour.

Demand Charter

‘Solidarity group for bonded labours’ demands justice for Nilambar and Jialu

In light of gruesome act in Odisha on 15 December 2013, in which the hands of two bonded labourers Nilambar Dhangada Majhi (Adivasi) and Jialu Nial (Dalit) were cut off by contractors, the solidarity group for bonded labours demands stern action against culprits, The two labourers who belong to Kalahandi district of Odisha, are now struggling for life at the Burla Medical College and Hospital at Sambalpur.

The ‘Solidarity for bonded labours’ has following concerns and we seek immediate and urgent attention and action from Central government and Odisha government. They are represented separately as under:

An appeal to Chief Minister of Odisha:

  • Chief Minister of Odisha must take full responsibility for this gruesome act and admit his failure to implement the Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act 1976 and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
  • That the criminals be brought to justice immediately to IPC, to also charge accused under relevant sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act [Section and inter-state migrant workmens act 1979. The case shall be referred to the special court the SC/ST (PoA) Act 1989.
  •  Police must file charge sheet-within one month and court proceedings should start with special appointment of public prosecutor.
  •  That the two labourers be rehabilitated as per the Bonded Labour System Abolition Act and all social welfare measures as per the Unorganised Worker Social Security Act, 2008.
  •  That one member from the families of the two labourers be provided with employment

This atrocity also sheds light on the plight of other labourers mainly from Western Odisha who migrate to work in brick kilns in the Southern states of India but end up as bonded labourers. Hence, the Solidarity Group also demands that

  •  Expedite the proceedings in cases pending against all labour contractors or ‘SARDARS’ (as called in western Odisha parlance) in the State of Odisha.
  •  The legal liability in such cases shall be extended to the Principal employers as without their abetment such incidents cannot take place.
  • State government must ensure complete rehabilitation of all bonded under  Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules 1995- 12[4]-21

Since the problem of bonded labour is not restricted either to the brick kiln industry or to the state of Odisha, but is spread across the country, as per the experience of the various organisations represented in the Solidarity Group, latter makes an appeal to Prime Minister also to:

Prime Minister of India must admit his failure to implement the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976 and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and take full responsibility for this gruesome crime.

That a fact finding commission, comprising of court appointed offices, government officials, social action groups and trade union representatives be constituted:

  • to investigate this gruesome case of two labourers being grievously injured by contractors and bring the perpetrators to book and rehabilitation of the labourers.
  • to conduct an extensive interview with the victims and their family and recommend a consolidated rehabilitation package.
  • to investigate the situation of migrant workers in western Odisha and other states
  • to recommend  ways in which labours working under bondage in the State of Odisha and other states could be released and have land based sustainable livelihood.

And that the report of the proposed fact finding team be released on the website of the Ministry of Labour, GOI, Panchayati Raj Department and Labour Department, Government of Odisha.

That directives should be issued to all the state governments regarding effective implementation of Inter-state Migrant Workmens Act 1979. It is to be noted that millions of Dalits and Adivasis are illegally made to migrate from different pockets of the country to work in bondage condition, majorly in Brick kiln units.

Government and District administration along with trade unions and social action groups should work on protocols to ensure fair, participatory and transparent labour recruitment processes which should be legally binding on the recruiters and recruitment processes should be institutionalized.

Finally, as the nodal agency to handle the cases of bonded labour is the National Human Rights Commission, the Solidarity Group also makes an appeal to the NHRC, which is as follows:

  • An appeal to the NHRC to recognise the victims as bonded labour, issue release certificate and issue direction to the State of Odisha for their rehabilitation as recommended by the proposed fact finding committee.
  • An appeal to the NHRC to immediately start court proceedings pertaining to this case and to issue directives to Central and State government for their failure to implement the judgement dated October 15, 2012 passed by the Ho’ble Supreme Court in PUCL VS STATE OF TAMIL NADU. The Central and State Government shall also be held in contempt of court for ignoring judgement issued by the apex court on bonded labour

In solidarity

Solidarity group of Bonded Labourers

Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan (Punjab), New Trade Union initiatives (Gujarat), Jeevika- Jeevika vimukti, (Karnataka), National Dalit movement for justice (Delhi), Sahri adhikar manch (Delhi), Delhi solidarity group (Delhi), National coordination committee on bonded labour, Prayas Center for Labour Research and Action, Rajasthan; Justice Venture International (New Delhi), Society for labour development, ActionAid India, RITES FORUM (Odisha). Vikas (Odisha), International Justice Mission, Adivasi Solidarity Council, Paschim Odisha Krishak Sangathan (Odisha), Soco Trust (Tamil Nadu), Dalit Shree Shakti (Andhra Pradesh), Bharathi Trust (Tamil Nadu), Association for Rural Development (Andhra Pradesh), The Dalit Alliance (Andhra Pradesh), Solidarity Committee for Brick Kiln Workers (Andhra Pradesh), Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, Sankalp and Doosara Dashak (Rajasthan), RIHR (Rajasthan), National Forum for Housing Forum (Rajasthan); Bal Sajha Sankrashak Abhiyan (Rajasthan), Rajasthan Int Bhatta Mazdoor Union, Zila Yuva Vikas Sangathan (Haryana), HPVHA (Himachal Pradesh), Shramik Adhikar Manch (Gujarat), Union Solidarity International and others.
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