RAJASTHAN STATE, India – On 10 June, IJM’s casework partner Jai Bhim Vikas Shikshan Sansthan (JBVSS) assisted local authorities in a rescue operation to free 18 people, including 10 children, who had been held in bonded labour at a brick kiln in Rajasthan state.
These families had been working at the kiln since October 2020, when a trafficker lured them with promises of good jobs and fair wages. This trafficker then absconded with payment advances that were meant for the labourers. The kiln owner held the families responsible and demanded they keep working in harsh conditions to pay off what was taken.
From then on, the labourers were never allowed to leave the kiln worksite. They say the owner would intentionally miscount the number of bricks they made so he could extend their false debt, and that he failed to provide any food supplies for the last month. Through it all, they endured frequent verbal abuse from the owner and his henchmen as they worked in the hot sun.
Once JBVSS staff heard about the families’ plight in the kiln, they worked tirelessly on a plan to free them. Due to the COVID-19 surge and lockdowns in India, they had to coordinate the rescue operation online with local officials—which made it harder to convey the compelling details and urgent need to mobilise. JBVSS also reached out to local journalists, the District Legal Services Authority, and the police Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) for help on the case.
At last, on 10 June, local officials led a rescue operation at the kiln to confirm the truth and bring the families to safety. The kiln owner tried to chase the victims away, but the DLSA and AHTU helped ensure their safety and that proper protocols were followed.
In the end, officials decided not to file charges against the kiln owner, but required him to pay back-wages of 430,000 rupees (about A$7,750) to the victims. The families said they were happy to take their fair compensation and leave this painful chapter behind.
One IJM staff member shared, “The victims were thankful for the partner’s support and said they are happy that, because of the intervention, they are now going home safely and they have some money in their hands for survival.”
Next, JBVSS staff helped ensure the families could return to their homes safely and connected them with another partner in their home state, who will guide them as they recover. JBVSS will also follow up with local law enforcement on this case to ensure the proper offenders are held accountable under India’s laws.
About IJM’s Partnership Model
IJM India has collaborated with local authorities to rescue victims of bonded labour and restore survivors since 2001. In 2012, we launched a new project, based in Delhi, to partner with like-minded organisations across the country, share expertise, and replicate success in addressing bonded labour and building government capacity.
Our partner Jai Bhim Vikas Shikshan Sansthan (JBVSS) has been protecting and empowering vulnerable women, children, and low-caste communities in Rajasthan state since 1993 and has been a funded IJM partner since 2015. With IJM’s support, they have been able to rescue and rehabilitate hundreds of victims of bonded labour and have helped IJM train local anti-trafficking police on how to better enforce the law.
Building on their rich knowledge of the Dalit community, JBVSS has built quality programs to help survivors stay safer in freedom, with focuses on health, housing, protection, economic empowerment, education and trauma recovery. They have helped families start their own farms, enrol children in school and join self-help groups to meet other survivors and work together on community goals.
*An IJM stock photo has been used in this article. The image does not depict the survivors described.
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