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01.12.2021 13:26 News >> 'Debt Bondage Slavery In India Affects Tribal Population'

'Debt Bondage Slavery In India Affects Tribal Population'

Despite ban on slavery 18.4M people, largely tribals, indigenous groups, engage in forced labor in India, classified as modern day slavery.

Even as slavery stands banned in India since 1843, activists in India say it exists in the form of bonded labor, practiced and thriving in large parts of the country.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency on the occasion of International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, which is being observed on Thursday, Narendra Bhadoria, an office bearer at Bandhua Mukti Morcha (Bonded Labour Liberation Front), said mostly the tribals and indigenous people were being forced into bonded labor.
Bhadauria, who works in the Guna district of the central Indian province of Madhya Pradesh, said that due to economic hardships in the regions with scant resources, residents are forced to borrow money from money lenders or rich landlords who charge exorbitant interest rates.
"As they are not able to repay the debt, they are forced by moneylenders to work in the fields or sometimes given some other labor work. These people work day and night for years and are not paid any wages," he said.
They cannot even quit their job and the moneylenders continue to exploit them illegally.
Last year a laborer, Vijay Saharia, 26, was burnt alive in Guna district by pouring kerosene on him as he could not repay a loan of just 5,000 rupees ($75). Local non-government organizations claimed that it was a case of bonded labor.
According to police, Saharia was working as a bonded laborer in Radheshyam Lodha's farm for the past three years. Local NGOs claimed that he had asked the landlord to pay him wages, which angered him and he allegedly set him on fire after pouring kerosene on him. He died in the hospital the next day.
Vijay's father Kalluram told Anadolu Agency that his son had worked for Radheshyam for over three years, but was neither paid wages nor adjusted his loan amount.
Bhadauria said there are hundreds of such cases in the Guna district alone.
"There are many such cases in every village where people are being forced to work. But no one is listening," he said.
Children paying parents' debts
Vimal Jat who works for Synergy Sansthan -- an NGO promoting education among children – said he has found at least 10 children working as bonded laborers in every village of Harda district of Madhya Pradesh.
"These children usually work in the fields as their parents were unable to repay the debt. Many of them have been working hard for years," he said.
The government, however, said they were at the best child laborers and not bonded laborers.
"We have not found many cases of bonded labor. The administration is on alert everywhere, if anyone is found guilty of employing a person as bonded labor then action will be taken," said Madhya Pradesh Labor Minister Brijendra Pratap Singh.
According to the 2011 census, 135,000 bonded laborers were identified in the country. In 1976, while banning bonded labor system, the government had promised to help in the rehabilitation of freed bonded laborers to provide them housing and employment.
"For this, it was necessary to produce a discharge certificate to certify that they had been freed from bonded labor," said Jat.
But he said getting such a discharge certificate is not easy.
"Therefore, the people are not able to get any facility or compensation even after they are freed from bonded labor," he added.
According to World Population Review, 46 million people in 167 countries were living as slaves. Out of which 18.4 million people live in India followed by China with 3.4 million. The International Labour Organization describes forced labor and human trafficking as modern-day slavery. -



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