Pune: The Dharashiv police have rescued 11 workers who were chained by a contractor and forced to carry out well digging without paying compensation, officials said on Monday. The police arrested the contractor, identified as Krishna Balu Shinde, and search is on to nab accused Vishal from Ahmednagar who arranged the workforce.
The police took action after complainant Sandeep Ramkisan Ghukse, 23, of Kavatha village in Hingoli district, escaped from the contractor’s clutches and reached home. He told the ordeal to the relatives who approached the police station on June 17. Among the workers who were chained included Sandeep’s cousin.
Maruti Piraji Jatalkar, a daily wage worker from Wakharwadi village in Dharashiv district, was one of the persons chained by the contractor to prevent from escaping, the police said.
Jatalkar, who agreed to take up the job to save money for his daughter’s marriage, could not attend the wedding in his village on May 15 as he was held captive.
“I was locked in a room with legs tied with an iron chain. I did not get any money since the well digging work started two months ago,” he said.
The Dharashiv police rescued 11 daily wage workers from two spots in Wakharwadi village of Marathwada. Officials said the agent, based on his commission, lured the workers hailing from six districts and sent them to the contractor.
Raju Ganulal Mhatre from Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh met one Vishal when he got down from a train at Ahmednagar railway station two months ago in search of a job. Vishal promised to give him a logistic related work at Shikrapur MIDC and handed him over to Dharashiv.
Mhatre said, “They left us at the deep well to dig at 6 am. Food was provided but we were not allowed to leave the well. By around 8 or 8:30 pm, they tied our legs with iron chain and forced us to consume liquor. We were promised ₹500 per day wages, but it was not given. How will I return home now?”
Another worker, on condition of anonymity, said that he is the son of a retired government officer and has a master’s degree in history from Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar University, Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar.
“I am working here since 20 days. I suffered leg injuries while carrying blasting material. I was not given any medical attention. My legs were tied by using iron chains and four locks,” he said.
Amol Santosh Nimbalkar from Washim district said that they were not allowed to answer nature’s call when they working at the well.
The workers rescued from Wakharwadi village include Bhagwan Ashok Ghukse from Kavatha village in Hingoli district, Jatalkar 40 from Atkur village in Nanded district, Mhatre from Madhya Pradesh, Mangesh Jananrdan Kantaje from Kulamkhed in Buldhana district, Balaji Shamrao Waghmare of Limba village in Nanded district and Ganesh Ashok Pawar from Nashik district.
Another police team reached Khamaswadi, 5 km from Wakharwadi, and rescued Bharat Lalit Rathod of Rui village in Washim district, Sharad Dattarao Shinde of Adtolaji village in Jalana district, Amol Santosh Nimbalkar of Shirubhada village in Washim and Pranav Rajendra Pawar of Sambhajinagar.
The police provided the victims food and medical help. Later, Krishna Balu Shinde was arrested from Bhoom in Dharashiv district, along with his accomplices Santosh Shivaji Jadhav, Ranjit Balira Sable and one 17-year-old was detained.
According to the police, Santosh used to maintain properties owned by Krishna, . Ranjeet was working as a driver responsible for transport of workers and the minor was responsible for providing food and other things to workers.
M Ramesh, assistant superintendent of police, Kalamb division, said, “The contractor Shinde had allegedly purchased each worker for ₹5,000- ₹15,000 from a man named Vishal in Ahmednagar.”
Atul Kulkarni, superintendent of police, Dharashiv district, said, “We are probing the possibility of an interstate racket operating behind these accused. We are trying to rehabilitate the freed workers and provide them financial assistance under various government schemes.”
Dhoki police station has filed a case on Sunday under Sections 370 (buying or disposing of any person as a slave), 367 (kidnapping or abducting in order to subject person to grievous hurt, slavery, etc), 345 (wrongful confinement of person for whose liberation writ has been issued), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons ), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 34 (criminal act is done by several persons) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and is likely to add sections of the 1976 Bonded Labour.