In a shocking incident, which has come to light, two Adivasi women from Jharkhand’s Dumka have revealed that they were forcibly confined at a factory (near Bengaluru) they were employed in, physically abused and raped. They were also reportedly deprived of their wages. When the women finally managed to escape, they hid in a forest for nearly a month amid lockdown with their two daughters – aged five and eight.
The women and their children were later rescued by volunteer groups. On June 3, they boarded a Shramik train and reached Jharkhand on June 5. As per their lawyer Rajlakshmi, police have ordered a probe in the matter. The labour department has given Rs 1 lakh to each of the victims as compensation for the wages they had been deprived of. The women are currently at a quarantine centre in Dumka. They have been tested for COVID-19 and their results are awaited.
Shockingly, one of the women claimed that she was gang-raped by two men at the factory in Kengeri. Following an FIR, the two accused were booked under sections 376D of the Indian Penal Code and SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. DSP Om Prakash told The Indian Express, “The two people have been arrested. The owner of the factory is in Chennai and due to the COVID-19 situation there, we have not been able to meet him. But a probe is underway into the bonded labour allegations.”
As per the police complaint, the women started working at the factory in October. They were made to work for 15 hours at a stretch and were paid Rs 200 a week instead of Rs 9,000 a month, which they had been promised. They attempted to escape the factory in January but were hunted down and forced to return by a factory supervisor.
This time, they were locked up, beaten, threatened with rape and their Aadhar cards and phones were taken away. Two days later, the two men raped one of the women. In mid-March, the women escaped again. They took shelter in a forest in Kumbalagodu amid lockdown and only stepped out to beg for food from villagers. Seeing their plight, a contractor offered them shelter and food at a building he owned.
The contractor too started threatening them into entering a sexual relationship with them. That’s when one of the contacts of the women approached the police and they were rescued. It was after they were rescued that the entire ordeal came to light.