President of the Federation of Scheduled Caste People’s Association, Ramkumar, urged district collector Deepak Kumar to rescue 22 Scheduled Tribe families of Puducherry allegedly kept as bonded labourers in Thanjavur and Pudukkottai districts of Tamil Nadu.
In a letter to the collector, Ramkumar said the Irular families from T N Palayam settlement had been taken to Pudukkottai and Thanjavur 10 years ago and they never came back. The organisation found out that the families are made to harvest sugarcane.
The Irular families are often lured by Rs 1000 or Rs 2000 during the rainy season in Puducherry. Then they are taken to work by trucks at midnight. Often they are given advances and then made to work for repayment of loan with interest, said Ramkmar. There is no fixed working hours.
Some of the families who somehow return are again taken back. If they refuse to go back, their wife or children are taken . Recently a 12-year-old boy from T N Palayam had been taken away when his father could not go back for work.
Ramkumar urged the collector to take immediate steps to rescue and rehabilitate them.
Hunting, which had been their source of living, has been banned by the government and so they have no income-generating activity. “The government should devise some income- generating scheme through which the tribal can earn their living,” said Ramkumar.