A multi-state rescue

Watch this video in which people describe their experience working in a Bangalore incense factory, working for multiple years without any compensation:

This was a recent case from our Bangalore office. This was part of a multi-state, 155-person rescue described in more detail in this story from The Hindu:

The recent raid on an agarbatti factory on the outskirts of Bengaluru, in which 107 labourers were rescued, points to a trafficking network that runs much deeper than what this specific case reveals.

Those rescued by the district administration and the police from Balaji Agarbatti Factory at Kaggalipura on Thursday hail from West Bengal (43), Assam (40), Jharkhand (22), and Nepal (2). They were brought here in batches over three years. However, the common thread running through all their narratives is the modus operandi of “agents” who brought them to Bengaluru. […]

The next stop was Tirupattur, Tamil Nadu, where some of them worked briefly in another agarbatti factory before moving to Bengaluru. While the first point of contact at the village level is different depending on the State from which they hail, the Delhi agent is unanimously mentioned by all workers.

“There is certainly a racket here and the police are on the lookout for links to the agency in Delhi,” said Dayanand, tahsildar of Bengaluru South taluk. Besides provisions of Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, the factory owner and touts have also been booked for human trafficking (Section 370).

Sources in Kaggalipura police said it was a “clear case of trafficking with inter-State ramifications” with several agents involved. Subsequently, a raid was also conducted at an agarbatti factory in Tirupattur, where 48 workers were rescued.

This complicated rescue required the work of multiple offices in multiple states and the strong response of government officials. I am so proud this IJM was involved in this. This is what we mean when we say that part of our objective is to “prove that justice for the poor is possible.”

The thing that struck me more than anything else about this was how modern the facility was. The New Indian Express had a picture from the inside:

This is not a brick kiln operating with some pre-industrial manufacturing techniques. This is a factory operating at scale with modern technology and facilities.

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