The Union Home Ministry has written a letter to the Punjab government asking it to consider a serious problem of bonded laborers working with farmers in the border villages of the state. People associated with this case have given information about it. Most of the laborers whom the Home Ministry has raised concerns are from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
These bonded laborers go hundreds of kilometers away from their homes to work in Punjab on the promise of good wages. But, they are exploited after reaching Punjab. According to a letter written to Punjab Chief Secretary and DGP on 17 March, they are poorly paid.
The ministry said that drugs are often given to bonded laborers, which helps them to work for long hours in the fields. This adversely affects their mental and physical condition.
“Keeping in view the problem, which includes human trafficking, bonded labor and human rights violations, you are requested to look into the matter and take appropriate steps to resolve it,” the ministry said. The state government has been asked to submit a report of action on this matter on a priority basis.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has flagged the matter to the Union Ministry of Labor and Employment, in which appropriate instructions to all states – particularly Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha to create awareness at various levels have asked to be released. States, to ensure that the poor and weak victims are cheated by unscrupulous elements by making false promises for better employment prospects and remuneration etc. Details of the disturbing trend have been shared on the basis of people caught from the border villages of Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Ferozepur and Abohar in Punjab in 2019 and 2020. The Border Security Force has caught 58 Indian nationals from the border areas of these two districts. “During interrogation, it was revealed that most of them were either mentally handicapped or mentally weak,” the Ministry of Home Affairs wrote in the letter. PTI