BENGALURU: The ordeal of 150 young girls from Odisha, who were forced to work in a garment factory in Bengaluru, ended on Tuesday when they left for their home state by a Shramik Special train at 9pm.
The girls, aged between 13 ad 19, were brought to Bengaluru over a period of six months. After the Covid crisis struck, the employer refused to let them go despite repeated pleas, until one of them, decided to take matters into her own hands.
Seema (name changed) took a video in which some of the girls explained their plight and sent it via WhatsApp to people she knew. Finally, the video reached Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. “The CM’s office immediately contacted its counterpart in Karnataka, and asked them to take steps to send the girls back to Odisha,” a railway source said.
With the government’s permission, International Justice Mission, an NGO that works with child trafficking victims, visited the factory and rescued them. “The State booked tickets and put them on the Shramik Special to Odisha,” the source added.
A railway official who interacted with the girls said, “They were brought into the city in small batches to escape scrutiny and made to work at the factory. The owner held them against their will, saying no trains were being run to Odisha now,” he said.