UMERKOT: The judiciary wants to curb bonded labour and ensure rights of peasants through effective implementation of the Tenancy Act. Courts are open to all and justice can be sought by filing an application in any district and sessions court.

This was stated by Umerkot district and sessions judge Suresh Kumar while speaking a gathering held at Suryah Badshah Complex here on Sunday.

Referring to the widespread complaints of usurpation of peasants’ rightful wages and share in produce in violation of the Tenancy Act, as well as excesses on them by their employers, Mr Kumar advised the aggrieved peasants to move the Tenancy Tribunals functioning at taluka headquarters instead of fleeing the lands they worked on.

He said the assistant commissioner concerned headed the tribunal of each taluka.

The gathering was organised by the Green Rural Development Organisation (GRD) in collaboration with the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan.

Dr Hyder Malokhani of the GRDO told the audience that farm workers were mostly underpaid and deprived of their rightful and lawful share in their produce. He observed that their employers subjected the poor peasants to inhuman treatment. He said peasantry in such a situation had become slavery as peasants and their family members, women and small children, faced harassment and torture. He said his organisation had filed as many as 93 such cases in Umerkot district alone during the last six months while more than 200 similar cases were filed in other districts. In most cases, he added, peasants and their family members were restricted to the farmlands they worked on. Such examples of bonded labour were found mostly in the agriculture sector and brick kiln trade.

Activists of several other non-governmental organisations including Mustafa Khoso, Mir Chand Bheel, Dr Shafi Mohammad Bajeer, Comrade Ghulam Hussain, Shahida Khaskheli and Meva Ram Dongrani also spoke.

A seven-member committee including three women was formed to identify bonded labour cases and facilitate the litigation.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2014

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