Brick-moulders recount their evil bondage with kiln
LUCKNOW: They live in a single room hovel with a low roof that requires one to stoop low to enter. There is no light, nor enough space to stretch the body or sit with legs straightened. They are paid a pittance for their day-long toil and get no medical facilities and no recreation time. Their misery and squalor is compounded by physical exploitation, life threats and inhumane treatment at the hands of their masters.DEEPAK GUPTA / HT PHOTO
Be it Uttar Pradesh or any other state, the lives and livelihoods of brick-kiln workers end up being contracted to their workplaces in more ways than one can imagine.
Many such bonded and child labourers, who have spent many years of their lives in these kilns in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and other parts of the country were in the state capital on Friday to be part of a public hearing before the representatives of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), National Commission for Women and National Human Rights Commission.
They narrated the dismal conditions under which they worked and how they were abused. A woman of the Musahar tribe of Jharkhand, who spent a long time at a brick kiln with her husband, said, “They would beat us on every petty issue. They kept my husband captive for some months because he had objected to the conditions of work. They exploited me and did the same to every woman who lived in the kiln.”
Not just physical and mental abuse, the bonded labourers also face constant threat to their lives from the owners. Many had even lost their lives this way, said the bonded labourers who had been freed.
“They killed my son and buried him near a river. There are so many who are killed in this way and even the families do not come to know about the remains of their near ones,” said another women who spent 15 years of her life in a kiln.
“While those at the helm of affairs are not well updated about the laws that exist for bonded labourers and their rehabilitation, there is a lot that needs to be done to stop the abuse and exploitation still prevalent in the brick kilns,” said Lenin Raghuvanshi, who works for the rights of such labourers.