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Eight Convicted in Brutal “Hand-Chopping” Slavery Case

On Christmas Eve, eight Indian traffickers were convicted for torturing and chopping off the right hands of two innocent men they had tried to enslave. All eight were sentenced to life imprisonment—the longest sentences ever in an Indian bonded labor slavery case—while a ninth suspect is still on trial.

These convictions end a nearly three-year trial in one of the most graphically violent cases of human trafficking IJM has encountered.

In December 2013, these traffickers deceived a group of 14 men and women and attempted to enslave them in a brick kiln. The group realized what was happening and escaped, but two men—Dialu and Nilambar—were quickly recaptured.

For nearly a week, they were held captive, starved, taunted and tortured as punishment for their attempted escape. Then, late one night, the henchmen threatened to kill the men and gave them a choice: lose your head, your right leg or your right hand. Dialu and Nilambar both lost hands at the wrist.

Dialu, shown above, remembers thinking, “This is the point I am going to die.”

Miraculously, the two men staged a daring escape and walked several hours to get medical care. Local non-profits and media soon heard their shocking story, and one organization contacted the IJM team for help.

Since that time, IJM has been supporting public prosecutors in the legal case and has provided crucial aftercare for Dialu and Nilambar, including urgent medical care and a long-term rehabilitation program to help their families rebuild after this terrifying ordeal. Both men graduated from IJM’s aftercare program in August 2016. Sadly, Nilambar passed away suddenly just months later from a medical condition.

The notorious “hand-chopping” case drew national attention in India and even a directive from the Supreme Court for Odisha state—where the crimes occurred—to urgently improve its response to human trafficking.

On December 24, 2016, after years of testifying and waiting, Dialu was present at the court as a judge convicted all eight of the suspects in custody for charges including kidnapping, trafficking, bonded labor slavery and attempted murder.

These life sentences are the strongest ever in an Indian bonded labor case, and additional victim compensation will help Dialu and Nilambar’s families recover fully. Court officials have said they hope these strong sentences will deter other criminals from committing these heinous acts against the poor.

Read more about these landmark convictions from Reuters and The Times of India.

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