9 minors from Orissa held for murder released, head home

9 Sep
Pune Nine minors from the tribal belt of Orissa, held for murdering a labour contractor for subjecting them to cruelty, were on Wednesday released from an observation home here on probation after they pleaded guilty. Observing that their conduct at the observation home was good, the juvenile justice board released them, police said. They left for Orissa by train on Thursday.In October last year, the nine minors aged between 11 and 16, three from Rayagada and six from Koraput districts, both Naxal-affected, were trafficked to Pune by labour contractor Bhimsen Hazari Samantarai (42), promising of Rs 4,000 as wages every month, police said.

In May this year, they were held by Wanawadi police for the Samantarai’s murder. The minors told police he used to harrass and beat them, and did not pay them wages or give them food.

The juvenile court has ordered the minors to perform community service at government community health centres in their respective districts for a month. Ajit Khadke, inspector (crime), Wanawadi police station who investigated the case, said, “They were forced to work under harsh conditions and tortured by the contractor whom they murdered after he stopped giving them food. Sources with the observation home said the behaviour of all the nine minors was good and no traits of violent mindset were seen anytime. This suggested the crime was the fallout of extremely harsh conditions.”

The case was first taken up by Amita Naidu, a Pune-based child rights activist, who met them at the observation home and referred the matter to Bidyut Mohanty, another activist with the Society for Promoting Rural Education and Development (SPREAD), in Koraput.

SPREAD had taken up the issue with the respective district administrations and arranged for expenses of the travel of parents/ guardians of the minors. It also met the travel expenses of the minors to Orissa. The NGO has now been given the responsibility of reporting the progress of the minors. Naidu said, “The case was highlighted because the minors came in conflict with the law but this is a case that tells about thousands of migrant minor labourers in our cities… The system that implements the juvenile justice act is weak. Migrant juveniles are paid less attention when they are more prone to be victims.”

Newsline had covered the issue in July and September. M L Murty of Pune who has lived in Koraput and Rayagada and came forward to help these minors after reading the report, “These districts have high density of backward tribal population. Poverty is prevalent. These factors push them to migrate.”

Advocate Sheetal Bansode argued their case in the juvenile court.



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