KARNATAKA STATE, INDIA–In February, IJM staff supported our grassroots NGO partner and local authorities in rescuing 28 adults and three children from a construction site where they had been held in bonded labour for two years.
These impoverished families had been trafficked from the state of Telangana. They believed they were signing up for good jobs and regular pay. Instead, they were forced to work extreme hours building a hospital near the city of Gadag and were not allowed to leave.
IJM’s partner Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) discovered the abuse and alerted local government authorities and our team in Bangalore. Together, we planned a rescue operation to confirm the labourers’ experience and bring them to a place of safety. Police took one person into custody who may have been involved in the trafficking scheme.
Throughout the operation on 2 February 2021, local officials showed remarkable care and sensitivity to the victim families. They provided hot meals and brought a healthcare team to provide urgent medical care, including polio vaccines for the children who had never received them. Authorities also gave the families Release Certificates, which prove their freedom and help them access government benefits.
Dr. Krishnan, the founder of FSD, shared, “The Assistant Commissioner who led the rescue payed a key role in the proceedings. He arranged for medical check-ups, opened savings accounts, arranging shelter at a government hostel, [providing] food for the labourers, and made available a police constable for protection at the shelter—all of which ensures the safety, welfare and dignity of the labourers which were denied to them in bondage.”
That night, officials put the families up in a short-term shelter with a police officer posted outside to keep them safe. On Wednesday, the families returned home to their community, where FSD will provide long-term rehabilitative care.
Over the next few weeks, IJM and FSD will support local law enforcement as they build the legal case against the suspect who trapped these families in bonded labour—hopefully ensuring other vulnerable people are protected in the future.
Photo: Officials provide medical check-ups to the rescued families, including polio vaccinations for young children who had never had them.
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