Local police have arrested one alleged slave owner and are searching for two others after a dramatic rescue operation that brought 14 terrified men to freedom on September 7.
These men had followed a trafficker’s promise of a good job to support their families. Instead, they suffered months of vicious beatings, starvation and isolation at a ginger farm near Bangalore.
Forced to work 13-hour days with no pay or decent meals, the men often handled dangerous chemical fertilizers without protection. The slave owner and his henchmen monitored them constantly—even sleeping on a cot in their one-room shack to watch them at night.
Unable to bear the abuse, twelve other laborers had escaped from the same farm over the previous months. One of them was caught in a nearby village, dragged back and severely beaten. (Many of the rescued men still bear wounds or scars from similar violent attacks.)
Fortunately, one of the escaped men was able to report the case to police. An IJM-trained officer saw the dire situation and immediately contacted our team, and we worked with the government on an urgent rescue operation to free the victims.
During the operation, one survivor’s voice quaked in anguish as he narrated how they suffered without any contact to the outside world.
“I left my wife and 2-year-old child…I have not been able to talk to them even once in the last five months and don’t know what’s happened to them,” he cried. “I asked the owner many times to pay me my wages and let me go, but I was beaten with chains and sticks and told to keep working.”
He added tearfully, “I’m very grateful to the government who came like God and rescued us from the farm.”
Authorities brought the men to safety at a government office and have provided them medical care, food, official release certificates and funds to help their rehabilitation. Police have remanded the farm owner to prison for at least two weeks, and they filed anti-trafficking and anti-slavery charges against him in record time. They will continue to search for two other suspects also involved in the abuse.
Authorities are also escorting the survivors back to their homes and families, where they will join IJM’s two-year aftercare program to assist in their long-term recovery.