Chennai: A total of 14 people forced into bonded labour in a village near Muttukadu for nearly six years were rescued on Tuesday.
On receiving information about the plight of the woodcutters, the Chengalpattu sub collector had asked the revenue inspector and Tasildar to examine the issue.
“When we visited the site in Kanathu Reddy Kuppam, it was very dense and we could not spot anybody. We knew of the issue only when one of them walked out of the jungle for work nearby and went on to narrate their poor plight, when we interrogated him,” said revenue inspector, V.Vijayakumar.
Among the rescued were six men, four women and four kids aged below 4, all belonging to Irular community and hailing from Pooncheri. They were approached by one Karim Bai for wood cutting work at Muttukadu. “He gave us advance of `500 each and would pay Rs 1,000 for one ton of wood. As it is quite cold inside the jungle, our kids would often fall sick, but he would not let us go outside. Even the hospital is at least 10 kilometres from the site,” said one of the workers, Latha Devaraj.
The workers rued that even during the cyclone, they were forced to stay inside makeshift tents and water would sleep in them. “It was a nightmare and we could not leave as the only skill known to us is wood cutting,” said another woman.
The victims have been rescued and taken to Chengalpattu RDO office and the police have started search for Karim Bai and his associate, Veeramani who runs a granite business in the State.