Police rescue 15 labourers from farm in Bylakuppe Tibetan Settlement

Labourers in field in South India.

Labourers in field in South India. Photographer unknown


MYSORE, India, 9 September 2018

The Mysuru [Mysore] district administration on Saturday rescued 15 migrant labourers from a farm in the Bylakuppe Tibetan Settlement. All the labourers who were rescued are from North Karnataka. They were allegedly forced to work on a 25-acre ginger farm in the 11th camp in the Tibetan settlement.

Three persons from Arasikere taluk in Hassan district had taken the farm on lease to cultivate ginger. They had hired labourers from Hubballi, Ballari, Davanagere, and other districts from North Karnataka, promising to pay Rs 350 as daily wages and other benefits.

But after the labourers came to work in the farm, the trio allegedly began to torture them and did not allow them to leave the farmland. They also did not pay them the promised wages.

The incident came to light when one of the labourers, Raghu from Gadag district, escaped and informed his relatives about the harassment meted out to them and the terrible conditions they were forced to live in.

The relatives informed Gadag police who alerted International Justice Mission, an NGO in Bengaluru, to look into the matter. Volunteers from the NGO brought the incident to the notice of Mysuru DC Abhiram G Sankar, who, in turn, directed Hunsur tahsildar J Mahesh to visit the farm.

On Friday evening, Mahesh rushed to the farm along with police, and rescued all the labourers and shifted them to BCM Hostel in Hunasavadi.

The rescued are Pakirappa, Chandrashekar, Yellappa from Gadag district, Mahendra, Mahesh and Lakshman from Dharwad district, Basavaraja aka Sannabasava from Raichur district, Shanthappa from Haveri district, Hanumappa from Koppal district, Rajanna and Siddesh from Bengaluru Rural, Mohammad Aftab from Mandya district, Karibasava and Arjun from Davanagere.

Labourers get cheque for Rs 20k

The labourers told assistant commissioner K Nitish that they had been working in the farm for the past six months and were never paid. They were denied decent food, physically tortured when they tried to go out and also threatened with dire consequences if they tried to escape, said a worker.

Based on the information collected from the labourers, police have arrested Umesh from Arasikere taluk and are on the lookout for the other two — Niranjan and Shankar.

The district administration has given each labourer a cheque for Rs 20,000 and made arrangements for their return home.

Assistant commissioner Nitish said that the land had been given to the Tibetans refugees and leasing it to others is illegal. “The three lessees have also committed a crime by confining the labourers to the farm. A complaint has been registered at Bylakuppe police station. As most of the labourers are Dalits, an atrocity case too has been filed against the accused,” he said.

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