Unable to control the tears streaming down her cheeks, Fucha Mahli, 70, was reunited with her family in Jharkhand after 35 long years working as a virtual bonded laborer across the seas in the former penal colony of Andaman.
About 35 years ago, Mahli, a Bishunpur resident of Jharkhand in Gumla district, was brought to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to work as a laborer.
“More than three decades ago I was taken to Andaman on a boat from Calcutta to work for a company. However, the company closed after a year and I was forced to beg for a living when a ‘Mahajan’ (moneylender) local I took away all my papers in North Middle Andaman and for more than three decades I have been serving him instead of food, “Mahli told PTI by phone in a choked voice.
He said: “I have never dreamed of this day when I will come home … I had given up all hopes of seeing my family. All thanks to Chief Minister Hemant Soren and the NGO Shubh Sandesh I can see this day in my life,” he said. Mahli.
Mahli said her days in Andaman began with chopping wood and caring for the Mahajan named Sudeep, rather than food.
Before leaving for his village in Bishunpur, Mahli, arriving in Ranchi by plane, was taken to meet the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Soren, at the Jharkhand Assembly.
He said it was the intervention of Soren and the NGO that resulted in his rescue of the islands.
Soren intervened after learning of her plight when Mahli’s relatives contacted officials from the Labor department and an NGO Shubh Sandesh Foundation, which has been active for the release of migrant workers in various parts of the country.
Officials from Jharkhand and then their counterparts in the South Andaman to help free Fucha Mahli.
Shubh Sandesh Foundation executive Daniel Ponraj told PTI: “Mahli did not receive a penny during these three decades. His only possession is a radio set.”
Ponraj added: “Mahli traveled by boat three decades ago and returned by plane. He had lost all hope of seeing his wife or children. The bonded laborer is now a free man.”
Soren in a tweet said that he ordered officials to give Mahli their full support.
The joy of family members, including sons Ramatu and Pradeep Mahli and daughter Chero Devi, who had come to Ranchi to bring their father home, knew no bounds.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)