An Odisha tribesman who left home seven years ago in search of work and went missing has been reunited with his family after being rescued from Punjab where he was a bonded labourer.
The rescued labourer is Basupati Muduli (40) of Dokeribeda village under Dasmantpur block of this district of Odisha. “After we came to know about him on March 30, a special team of labour officers and police was formed and it rescued the labourer from Mahindral village in Punjab,” said Koraput collector Yamini Sarangi.
In 2008, Muduli had left for Jharsuguda with two villagers in search of work. After working as labourer for two years at Jharsuguda, the others returned but Muduli boarded a wrong train by mistake and reached Chandigarh. “As Muduli spoke not other language except Odia, he failed to tell people his address and after few days was engaged on the farmland of a man near Chandigarh,” said Koraput assistant labour officer Prasanna Panigrahi, who was on the team that rescued Muduli.
“After working for two years in Chandigarh, he joined a nomad group of the Gujjar community and went to Mahindral village on the border of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh,” the officer said. Panigrahi said Muduli would graze the community’s cattle, be tortured physically, and not given any food.
Gradually, he developed abnormal behaviour and a retired army man spotted him wandering helplessly at Mahindral.
“He took Muduli to hospital and contacted officers of the Dasmantpur police station, who informed Muduli’s family subsequently about his whereabouts,” he said. Muduli, who returned to his native place on Tuesday (April 7), was in tears. He said: “I had lost all hope of returning to my village. If today I am here, it is because of the retired army officer”.