Mob attacks NGO reps who rescued bonded labourers

A 50-strong mob barged into a convention hall in North Bengalurus Kodigehalli around 1.15 pm on Saturday and assaulted six members of an NGO which had helped the district administration rescue 43 bonded labourers from a brick kiln in Bagalur. The labourers were sheltered at the convention hall.

The mob accused the NGO of forcibly converting the labourers to Christianity. The nonprofit denied the accusation and said the mob was sent by the owners of some brick kilns. Police rushed to the spot and whisked off the NGO members to safety. No police case was registered.

The labourers, hailing from neighbouring villages in Odishas Balangir district, were first approached by a labour contractor who promised them jobs in Bengaluru, accommodation and fair wages. They were brought to the city five months ago and forced into bonded labour.

In a joint operation on March 22, the Bengaluru North subdivision of the district administration, the Bagalur police and the NGO International Justice Mission (IJM) rescued the labourers. The district administration sheltered the labourers at the conventional hall and was in the process of arranging for their return home. The NGOs volunteers, along with district officials, were working on handing over release certificates to the labourers to help in their rehabilitation when the mob showed up, a member of the nonprofit told DH.

Members of the NGO told the police they were being targeted by the owners of brick kilns as they had rescued many bonded labourers.

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