Odishatv Bureau

Boudh/Koraput/Berhampur: Instances of exploitation of migrant labourers continue to be a big concern for Odisha partly due to ignorance of labourers and proactive action on part of the administration.

The plight of the migrant labourers can be well gauged from the statements of the Janak and Kartik Mahara of Kalarakotha village in Kantamal block of Boudh district who along with 40 other locals had gone to Telangana to work at a brick kiln after being lured by a middleman in December last year.

Both Janak and Kartik have alleged that they were mentally and physically tortured by the brick kiln owner. "We were severely tortured and even deprived of food. The owner of the brick kiln also took away our mobiles and thrashed us brutally for protesting," said Janak Mahar, one of the escaped labourers.

After months of harassment, they finally managed to escape from the site and return to Odisha. But now, the family members of the remaining labourers who are still trapped in the brick kiln are a distressed lot.

Narendra Jaika, Boudh District Labour Officer (DLO) said, "Investigation into the incident is underway and higher authorities have also been informed about the matter. A State-level team has been constituted to rescue the stranded labourers."

Similarly, around 26 youths of Bakatiguda, Sindikata and Dangariguda villages of Kundura block in Koraput district who had gone to Tamil Nadu three months ago in search of livelihood are yet to return to Odisha.

The family members of the labourers have alleged that while there has been no trace of any payment, the employer has also taken away the mobile phones of the labourers so that they would not be able to communicate.

Aggrieved over the matter, the families have approached the local police and the DLO for the rescue of the labourers.

Jeypore SDPO Sagarika Nath said, "We have formed a joint team comprising labour and police officials. As per the directions of the SP, the team will rescue the trapped labourers by visiting the site.

Recently, a video showing 40 labourers from Khalikote of Ganjam district being trapped in Dubai surfaced in media. In the video, the labourers alleged torture by their employer and non-payment of wages. After circulation of the news, the Odia community based in Dubai has initiated rescue efforts.