Slaves were not allowed to have bath for six months

They had no bath for six months

Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: Mud covers the entire body of the four-year-old son of Oriya labourer Laxman Bariha, and six other children working in a brick kiln in Hosahodya village of Kolar district, 80 km from the city.

Thirty labourers from Orissa have been in a similar condition since they landed at the kiln six months ago. They have never had a bath since they arrived and have not had a change of clothes. They were made to stay in tiny huts and got drinking water just once a week. The owner of the kiln Chinnegowda beat any one who tried to eat more than twice a day.

This was the pitiable condition of the labourers when the Labour Department officials and a few non-governmental organisations raided the kiln.

“When one among our group died the owner forced his wife to go home and bring back Rs. 13,000 to get her family released,” said 38-year-old labourer Bati Bariha.

The children of the labourers were lodged in a separate dwelling to prevent them from running away. The labourers were also denied medicines for basic ailments.

“It is because of abject poverty that we have come here. This has made us work despite the difficulties,” said Karu Behera who had come to the kiln along with his wife and two sons.

“We were lured by the promise of a good income. The agent Kalakanhu Bariha stuck a deal with the kiln owner and sent us to work here,” he said.

“We were made to work continuously the whole day with a lunch break,” said 50-year-old Ram Pandey who worked along with his wife, two sons and a daughter. “He beat us with hot iron rods if we ate more,” he said.

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