BANGALORE, INDIA ,
May 29, 2015
One-hundred-and-fifty-five people who were held as forced labor slaves in incense factories for up to three years are now free. Families were separated and trafficked from as far away as Nepal, and they were kept under 24-hour surveillance with guard dogs at night.
“We suffered here worse than convicts in jail,” a 21-year-old labourer from the northeastern state of Assam said. “When I arrived here the owner took away my phone and wallet. He kept telling us that he will pay us before we leave to Assam. But when I told him I want to leave, he beat me up and threatened me. I have not stepped out or been in touch with my family since I came here. I have been waiting to somehow escape but there was no way.”
Forty-eight forced labourers were rescued from this second factory in Tamil Nadu and are expected to return home in the coming days.
Meanwhile in Bangalore, the IJM team focused on aftercare for the labourers. The 107 labourers have received release certificates from the government that ensure their freedom. They will return home next week.
The case against the suspects continues. The owner of the Bangalore incense factory was arrested, along with one trafficker and three employees. All are being held in custody under Indian Penal Code section 370 and the Bonded Labour System Abolition Act.
International Justice Mission is a global organisation that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems.Find out more