Following the attack on the workers, the Revenue Divisional Officer, Tiruvallur, and the police inspected the brick kiln and rescued the workers. “About 300 migrant workers, mainly from Balangir and Koraput districts of Odisha, have been working at the brick kiln for the past six months. A section of workers wanted to leave to their hometowns citing coronavirus. But the owner insisted them to stay and continue to work as they have pending dues on the advance taken by them. When a few workers decided to leave, the owner and his men assaulted them on Monday night,” said Dr K Krishnan, secretary National Adivasi Solidarity Council (NASC).
The migrant workers had taken an advance varying from Rs 5,000 to Rs 18,000 from the owner and had been working at the brick kiln for the past six months, he said, adding that even after the working for the six months, the owner had claimed that they still had pending dues. “The workers were paid a meagre Rs 300 per week. The minimum wage for making 1,000 bricks would be Rs 348 a day. The workers were made to work 16 hours and the wages were not paid properly during the lockdown,” he noted.
Krishnan who works among the migrant workers said that the district administration did not shift the workers to a relief camp and instead gave protection to the workers staying at the brick kiln. A revenue official said that a case has been registered against the brick kiln owner at the Vengal police station. “We have taken steps to send the workers back to their native place as per their wish. Until then they will stay at the brick kiln and we will arrange for their food,” the official said.
Krishnan said that the district administration should inspect all the brick kilns to find out whether the migrant workers were being held against their wish.
Migrant worker found dead near Gummidipoondi
The woes of migrant workers are on the rise ever since the lockdown was announced. In the latest incident, a 44-year-old man of Odisha was found dead in Kavarapettai near Gummidipoondi in Tiruvallur on Tuesday morning. Since he did not work in the neighbourhood, the police suspect that he could be one of those who decided to walk all the way back to their native. The deceased was identified as Ram Biswas with the help of the Aadhaar Card in his possession. Keezh Muthalambedu village administrative officer received information that a man was found dead on the road towards Sathyavedu in Andhra Pradesh from Kavarapettai.
He immediately alerted the police and Gummidipoondi DSP Ramesh and Kavarapettai inspector Sakthivel reached the spot and sent the body for post-mortem examination. Meanwhile, police personnel contacted his family members over the phone with the help of the phone book in Ram Biswas’ bag. A case has been registered and Ram Biswas’ post-mortem report is awaited to ascertain the cause of his death.