Human Rights Body orders to Give financial help to barbers, washermen
After 60 years of the Indian Independence, the bonded labour system prevalent in the rural areas of the country is going to be abolished, as per the declaration of the Indian National Human Rights Commission. The Commission has directed the Puri District administrator in Orissa, the eastern costal state of India, to provide financial help to the barbers and washermen, who have been working as bonded labourers, to open saloon or laundry, according to the Orissa Gotimukti Andolan, an outfit that struggling for abolish Bonded labor in rural areas.
It is to be noted that thousands of people in the State are serving for the upper caste families by taking an advance of about 15 kg of paddy in a year as their wages. The majority of these labourers are in in Nayagarh, Puri and Ganjam districts.
Human rights activist Bagambar Pattanaik of Puri filed a complain to the Commission in this regard. According to him, the sewaks (born in the family of barbers or washer-men) in consideration of the bartan or wages, have to render service like cutting hair, washing clothes, washing the feet and lifting the leftovers, along with many menial jobs on the occasion of death and marriage in the family. They become socially ostracised, if denied to do these works. Patnaik cited 17 ostracised barbers' families. He requested the commission to direct the district Collector to make the labourers free from the system, as it promotes untouchability, human trafficking and casteism in society.
However, the Collector after getting the clarification from the Panchayati Raj Department stated that the barbers and the washermen in the rural areas are not the bonded-labourers. Then the Secretary of the PR Deparment, Secretary of the Labour Deparment, the Collector and Pattanaik individually appeared on the open Adalat, as per the direction of the Commission. The Secretary of the PR Deparment and the Collector said that the system is not in present. However, Pattanaik said that the system is everywhere in the State except in the tribal and Dalit dominated areas.
So, the commission directed the Collector to conduct a fresh inquiry into all the 17 cases that were brought to his notice by the District Bonded Labour Vigilance Committee. Such other cases which may be brought to his notice shall also be inquired into and thereafter he will pass speaking order in all the cases, according to the provisions of the Bonded Labour System Abolition Act.
Such persons who are identified as bonded labourers, after conclusion of the inquiry shall be given release certificates and approximate steps shall be taken for their rehabilitation. The inquiry report shall be submitted to the commission within 12 weeks.