Skip to main content

Amidst govt inaction: Over 400 MP Adivasis 'escape' bondage in Maharashtra, Karnataka

Counterview Desk 

Led by the civil rights group, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), thousands of Madhya Pradesh Adivasis vowed to lead “constitutional struggle” against violence and exploitation on the occasion of International Labour Day at Barwani, demanding to expand the scope of the National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREGA), raising NREGA wages to Rs 600 a day in view of rising prices.
A JADS statement said, the Adivasis, many of whom are farmers, also demanded legally enforced MSP established at 1.5 times the total cost of production (C2+50%) as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission.

Text:

On May 2, 2022, over 1,500 Adivasi women and men of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan organized a rally and an aam sabha to mark the International Labour Day by collectively declaring their intent to continuously and constitutionally wage struggles against brutal exploitation and violence, to assert their right to a dignified life.
A large number of Adivasis in the region are being pushed into bonded labour due to indebtedness and poverty that stem from the rampant agrarian crisis and increasing unemployment. 
Over 400 Adivasis have recently escaped bondage and returned to their homes and have submitted complaints to the District Administration and Police, demanding action against illegal contractors and factory owners who forced them into bondage. However, no action has been taken on these complaints so far by the administration.
As the ongoing agrarian crises leads to burgeoning debts for households, increasing unemployment and rapidly shrinking opportunities of education are pushing young Adivasi families to migrate in search for work. Illegal contractors and factory owners of industries like sugar mills, taking advantage of this situation, entrap Adivasis into bondage.
Contractors come to Adivasi villages, offer debts in the form of an advance amount, promising that these debts, ranging from Rs 30,000-40,000 per couple can be paid off in just three months. They also promise workers that they would additionally be able to earn an additional income.
However, in reality, workers are forced to work without pay for 14-16 hours every day. Even after three months, they are given no accounts of the work done by them or the wages due to them; instead, they are forced to work for as long as the contractor or factory owners demand of them.
Recently, in just three months, over 400 Adivasis have escaped from bonded labour in Maharashtra and Karnataka and returned to Barwani. In their complaints made to the Barwani district administration and police, it was revealed that workers are forced to work for 14-16 hours a day continuously while living out in the open, in makeshift tents of plastic sheets. Workers are regularly denied medical care, and are forced to work through illness or injuries. Such conditions have even resulted in deaths of infants in some instances.
Women, who not only work for 14-16 hours on sugarcane fields, also look after their families while living and working in extremely insecure and harsh conditions, further face sexual violence by contractors. Women and minor girls have reported kidnapping and rape by contractors but no action has been taken by governments and administration against perpetrators of such violence.
Despite written complaints to the Barwani district administration and police regarding these atrocities, state governments (of MP and the states where workers migrated to) and the district administration remain mute spectators to the exploitation of Adivasi workers.
Further, the district administration and state governments attempt to deny or refuse to take cognizance of this large scale trafficking and entrapment of Adivasi workers into bondage, which is a cognizable offence under the Bonded Labour System Abolition Act, Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, the Prevention of Atrocities Act and the Indian Penal Code.
Adivasi women and men highlighting the main causes behind the ongoing, large scale forced migration, in a memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh, further demanded that government implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.
They reiterated that the government must establish the minimum support price to be 1.5 times the total cost of production (C2+50%) for all major (24) crops and, that this minimum support price be legally enforced. Further, Adivasis also demanded that the government actively procure and subsequently distribute grains other than rice and wheat, i.e Pulses, Oilseeds, and Millets through the Public Distribution System (PDS).
Highlighting that the recent increase in NREGA wages, which currently stands at Rs.204 a day in Madhya Pradesh, is inadequate in proportion to the rapidly increasing cost of living, and yet even these wages are being denied to workers through fraudulent ‘valuation’ by the administration, drastically exacerbating the situation.
Criticizing the government and the administration attempts to wilfully weaken NREGA instead of strengthening it, Adivasis demanded that the government instead, strengthen NREGA by guaranteeing work for more than 100 days, and increase the wages to at least Rs 600 a day.
In submitting their demands to the state government and the district administration, Adivasis also publicly affirmed their intentions to lead struggles to achieve their demands as they work to achieve and assert their right to a dignified life.

Comments

TRENDING

Vaccine nationalism? Covaxin isn't safe either, perhaps it's worse: Experts

By Rajiv Shah  I was a little awestruck: The news had already spread that Astrazeneca – whose Indian variant Covishield was delivered to nearly 80% of Indian vaccine recipients during the Covid-19 era – has been withdrawn by the manufacturers following the admission by its UK pharma giant that its Covid-19 vector-based vaccine in “rare” instances cause TTS, or “thrombocytopenia thrombosis syndrome”, which lead to the blood to clump and form clots. The vaccine reportedly led to at least 81 deaths in the UK.

'Scientifically flawed': 22 examples of the failure of vaccine passports

By Vratesh Srivastava*   Vaccine passports were introduced in late 2021 in a number of places across the world, with the primary objective of curtailing community spread and inducing "vaccine hesitant" people to get vaccinated, ostensibly to ensure herd immunity. The case for vaccine passports was scientifically flawed and ethically questionable.

'Misleading' ads: Are our celebrities and public figures acting responsibly?

By Deepika* It is imperative for celebrities and public figures to act responsibly while endorsing a consumer product, the Supreme Court said as it recently clamped down on misleading advertisements.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

Dadi, poti discuss 'injustice' under 10 yr Modi rule: Video campaign goes viral

By Our Representative  Watan Ki Raah Mein, a civil society campaign of the Samvidhan Bachao Nagrik Abhiyan, has released a short video conversation on social media of an exchange of letters between a dadi and her poti discussing poverty, unemployment, corruption and women’s safety. The letters also raise the question of  suppression of our fundamental rights of speech, expression and justice. 

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

India 'not keen' on legally binding global treaty to reduce plastic production

By Rajiv Shah  Even as offering lip-service to the United Nations Environment Agency (UNEA) for the need to curb plastic production, the Government of India appears reluctant in reducing the production of plastic. A senior participant at the UNEP’s fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4), which took place in Ottawa in April last week, told a plastics pollution seminar that India, along with China and Russia, did not want any legally binding agreement for curbing plastic pollution.

No compensation to family, reluctance to file FIR: Manual scavengers' death

By Arun Khote, Sanjeev Kumar*  Recently, there have been four instances of horrifying deaths of sewer/septic tank workers in Uttar Pradesh. On 2 May, 2024, Shobran Yadav, 56, and his son Sushil Yadav, 28, died from suffocation while cleaning a sewer line in Lucknow’s Wazirganj area. In another incident on 3 May 2024, two workers Nooni Mandal, 36 and Kokan Mandal aka Tapan Mandal, 40 were killed while cleaning the septic tank in a house in Noida, Sector 26. The two workers were residents of Malda district of West Bengal and lived in the slum area of Noida Sector 9.