Sachin Sharma, the Migsun vice-president, did not respond to calls and messages for a comment. However, company officials at the project site in Jor Bagh called the allegations baseless.
Prasoon Dwivedi, the SDM (Sadar), said they received information from an NGO, Bandhua Mukti Morcha, that 41 construction labourers and their family members had been confined at the project site for more than two months.
“A team was constituted and the project site searched. As many as 41 labourers, including 14 women and children, were found to be working there. The workers said they did not want to stay there and requested us to send them home. They said they had been given just Rs 100-200 once since they started working there,” he added.
The site was searched on Thursday by a team from the Surajpur police station along with officials from the labour department and the district administration.
On Friday night, the 41 workers and their family members — all from Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh — were sent home.
“Their statements were recorded. They alleged that the company officials would not allow them to leave the project site together. Only one person was allowed to go out at a time. Their release certificates were prepared and they were sent to their villages,” Dwivedi said. Nirmal Gorana of Bandhua Mukti Morcha, who informed the administration about the labourers on September 21, said the workers had come to the city around three months ago and were promised jobs at a construction site by a private contractor, Mahesh Yadav.
“The contractor took his commission and vanished. The workers were made to slog for 12 hours every day. After one month, when they sought wages, they were told that they should not be asking for any money since they were being given food and a place to stay on the project site. Even if they wanted to, they could not leave. Only one person would be allowed to go out at a time,” Gorana said. One of the labourers, Dharmendra, got in touch with the National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour, which Gorana had convened.
“I approached the officials on September 21. For the next seven days, the officials kept talking on the phone. It was on Thursday that a team searched the project site and freed the labourers,” Gorana said.
Chandan Tiwari, the project site in-charge, denied the allegations. “The labourers came here only on September 5. We have the entry records. According to company rules, labourers are paid Rs 2,000 each through their contractor after 15 days of work because many leave without completing the job. In this case, the workers were paid the amount,” he said, adding that the dispute over payment was usually between the contractor and the workers.
Dwivedi said the Migsun CMD, Sunil Miglani, had been booked under various sections of the Bonded Labour Act, 1976, following a complaint by the Sadar tehsildar. “They have said they will respond only in court with evidence. It’s true that some cases are motivated. The builder’s arguments will be looked into once the case is heard and any suspicious element will be checked,” he added.