3 bonded labourers rescued from dargah of self-styled baba

The Valtoha police rescued three bonded laboures confined in inhumane condition at the dargah of a self-styled preacher, Dilbaag Singh, at Bhadur Nagar (Valtoha village) in Tarn Taran district.
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Updated on Dec 26, 2014 11:30 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By Usmeet Kaur, Amritsar

The Valtoha police rescued three bonded laboures confined in inhumane condition at the dargah of a self-styled preacher, Dilbaag Singh, at Bhadur Nagar (Valtoha village) in Tarn Taran district.

Following a complaint by former sarpanch of Bhadur Nagar Avtar Singh, the Valtoha police booked preacher Dilbaag Singh under section 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under section 16 (punishment for enforcement of bonded labour) under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976, said sub-inspector Harkirat Singh of Valtoha police.

In his complaint, the sarpanch and few other villagers told police that the preacher had confined the three labourers for getting works at the dargah and of devotees done by them the whole day, and then he would keep them into confinement in the night, tied with thick chains used for fastening animals, said the sub-inspector.

Police claimed that they raided the dargah, but the baba was absconding leaving behind the three "bonded" labourers "confined in miserable condition".

There was a small cow shelter along the dargah, where animals were also found in deplorable condition, said police.

The three labourers have been identified by police as Sonu, who doesn't remember anything, not even his native place and family; Maan Chand, a resident of Jammu; and Jatinder Kumar from Agra.

"Owing to torturous behaviour of the preacher and inhuman confinement, the trio is suffering from psychiatric disorders," claimed the sub-inspector.

"The labourers have been rescued from the confinement and shifted to the civil hospital, from where they have been referred to a mental hospital. However, police shifted them to Pingalwara in Amritsar," he said.

"Pingalwara is the most trusted organisation and they have never say no to any patient, no matter how serious is the case. Bibi Dr Inderjit Kaur will be looking after them," the sub-inspector added.

Pingalwara patron hopeful of recovery

When Hindustan Times contacted patron and president of All Indian Pingalwara Society (AIPS) Bibi Dr Inderjit Kaur, she said, "The condition of the labourers is serious, but we will make sure that they recover. Every Saturday we send psychiatric patients for a check-up, Maan Chand will be going for treatment this Saturday.

Of the three, he is more likely to respond to the treatment at this stage. They have gone through rigours torture, and hence, lost their mental balance. The treatment will take one month, thereafter Maan Chand go back to Jammu. Jatinder Kumar will also go through a treatment soon and will be sent back to Agra after he recovers."

However, she wasn't sure about Sonu's recovery. "His condition is worst among the three and treatment cannot cure him fully, therefore he will be kept at the male ward of Pingalwara, said Dr Inderjit Kaur.

Inhumane tortures have taken tolls

When an HT team met the trio at a Pingalwara block near city centre, where they have been admitted, they showed the marks and wounds on their legs created by the chains used to confine them.

They have become unspoken less and were more expressive through their gestures. The inhumane tortures have suppressed their voice and only gestures and disturbed psyche remained into them.

When asked how they reached the dargah, they couldn't explain - they started thinking as if solving some puzzle and muttering something which was not understandable.

There is just one shelter home in the city, which doesn't admit mentally disturbed patients, on this Dr Inderjit Kaur said, "The Punjab government is not providing good shelter homes. Moreover, when the mental hospital authorities would have said no to police, then only they came to us.

I feel sorry for the police authorities, as they want to help people but face financial crunch." The police team which brought them here said, "If you don't keep them at Pingalwara, there is no one to help these three," she added.

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