Family of 11 confined to labour for four years on estate finally rescued

BENGALURU: Thursday was a day of deliverance for 40-year-old Madappa, his wife and their nine children. After being kept confined within a farmhouse-cum-estate in Maralawadi village near Kanakapura on Bengaluru’s outskirts for four years, they were finally rescued on Wednesday with the help of an NGO and the jurisdictional Harohalli police.

Such was their confinement, that the family was allegedly denied medical assistance during sickness. Madappa had to even play midwife when his wife delivered their youngest two children in a hut at the estate, as the property owner Kusappa allegedly refused to allow them to go to a hospital. None of the older seven children — four daughters aged above 10 — were allowed to go to school. The family, released on Wednesday evening, revealed how they lived for four years without adequate food, medical help or even the right to cross the estate gates.

Madappa, a native of Denkanikottai in Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu, came to Bengaluru five years ago to work in a brick factory at Kudlu near Electronics City, and earned enough to support his family back home. He later befriended a man named Seemalla, who informed him of a ‘lucrative’ job at an estate in Harohalli which would pay Rs 60,000 per year. But what lured Madappa was being allowed to bring his wife and seven children to stay with him while at the job.

That was the beginning of his and his family’s four-year-long confinement. Kusappa, who has a huge land holding in the village, agreed to pay Madappa Rs 60,000 per year and told him to move his family to the estate. Kenchamma (33), Madappa’s wife, joined him with their 7 children. With four daughters aged over 10 and unable to go to school, Madappa realised the situation was far from rosy as he was promised. The girls were allegedly forced to clean the cowshed and graze sheep and Kusappa even verbally abused them. “I wanted to send them to school, but he said kids get spoilt by going to school and kept them working instead,” Madappa said on Thursday while recounting his experience.

Madappa, till date, has received only Rs 20,000, given to him in the first year, as against `60,000 per year he was promised. And Seemalla had vanished. After the first payment, Kusappa allegedly stopped paying him entirely. “Every month, we had to beg and plead with him and he would give us `100,” Madappa said.
Into the second year of their confinement, Kenchamma was pregnant with their eighth child. “We were never allowed out of the estate. Kusappa’s nephews would keep a watch on us. I delivered our fifth girl child in the hut with no assistance,” Madappa said. About 10 months ago, the couple had another son, and Madappa had to deliver him too. “They did not even let us take our children for vaccinations. We would all wake up at 4 am and start work which would continue till 7 pm. When we were sick, he would send a few tablets,”


Kusappa, the estate owner, is said to be a wealthy sand miner, has 10-15 cows and cultivates ragi. He went absconding as soon as the estate was raided. He faces up to 7 years in prison if caught and convicted. The NGO that rescued the family received a tip-off from a nearby village about the condition of the family and immediately approached the police for help. The family has been given a room at a government school nearby.


Sashmeeta Mulmi, director, International Justice Mission, the NGO involved in rescuing the family, said, “Once the victims receive their release certificates, they are eligible for an initial rehabilitation amount of B20,000 followed by B80,000 for men and B1,80,000 for women and children. They will be sent back to their village and other NGOs will assist them.”


Rescuers said Madappa was scared to escape from the farmhouse or contact anyone despite having a mobile phone, as he was threatened by the kin of Kusappa. They had followed him for a while to monitor him and he was just receiving calls as he did not how to make calls. Thus, he did not attempt to escape from the estate or inform any of his relatives about his plight.