Government rescues 11 bonded labour victims from a pani puri-making unit in Chennai

7th Feb 2019

On 12th January 2019, the Tahsildar of Chennai, Ms. K.S. Kanchanamala and a team of government officials, inspected a pani puri manufacturing unit and identified that 11 bonded labour victims had been trafficked from Varanasi.

In a secluded, dingy house near Basin Bridge, Chennai, 11 bonded labourers, 9 of whom were below 18 years, had been held captive. Their hands blemished with oil burns, sore and untreated, they made puris for 18 continuous hours, surviving on only one meal, every day. With no wages, no permission to exit the premises and their phones seized, the 11 were disconnected from their families, from the outside world and were trapped.

The Tahsildar immediately brought them to the government office where the Revenue Divisional Officer, Mr. Rajendran conducted a detailed enquiry and issued 11 Release Certificates.

Various government departments worked collaboratively to support the boys. The district administration (DA) provided medical care and food. They also applied for community certificates, filed a protection petition with the police and lodged a complaint against the offenders. With assurance of help from the labour department to claim back wages, the DA sent the victims back to their homes in Varanasi. Officials accompanied them on their journey in order to protect them from further threats or attacks from their traffickers.

The following day, one of the offenders was arrested and remanded to judicial custody.

Study reveals that young boys are prime targets for traffickers
Human trafficking is said to be one of the fastest growing crimes and the second largest profitable industry in the world today. According to the 2016 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 8,132 cases of human trafficking were recorded in India, and 10,921 victims were trafficked for labour. In one of IJM’s fact-finding study, led in Madurai, Dindugal and Theni in April 2018, it was identified that young boys, below the age of 19, are commonly trafficked to the northern states of India to work in confectionary units. Seasoned traffickers, disguised as harmless people, are on the prowl for victims from vulnerable families.

Interstate police convergence is indispensable to fight human trafficking

Identifying networks of traffickers is crucial to fight human trafficking. Since this criminal act commonly involves interstate connections, increased convergence of police officials across the country is critical. The Bureau of Police Research and Development in collaboration with IJM and Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli conducted a three-day workshop for police officials across the five South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana between the 4th and 6th February 2019. IJM resource persons trained the police officials on human trafficking laws.

Dr. P. M. Nair, IPS, (Retd.) DGP (NDRF), in his session, addressed the common challenges involved in combating human trafficking crimes and suggested viable solutions. Cdr. Ashok Kumar, (Retd.) Indian Navy, talked about the use of technology to efficiently stay one step ahead of traffickers, subsequently curbing the crime.