Freeing Asha – a bonded labourer in a hotel
Asha, 18 years old, from Kudligi, Bellary District was a bonded labourer in a hotel in Kudligi town for the last four years. She was working from morning 5am till 9pm in the hotel to repay a loan of just Rs. 10,000/-. She has a mother, an older sister, two younger sisters and two younger brothers. The older sister has been given in marriage already. Asha narrated her pathetic story during a state level workshop on bonded labour organised by Jeevika together with Babasaheb Dr. B R Ambedkar Study and Research Centre, Bangalore University on 12 September 2014. The workshop was held at the Centre from 11am to 2pm. Dr. Siddalingaiah, Director of the Centre and Shivaji Ganeshan, Chairman of the recently constituted State level Committee of Bonded Labour and Kiran Kamal Prasad were the main speakers. A report of the workshop along with the story of Asha and some other bonded labourers was published on the following day in some newspapers including Vijaya Karnataka, a Kannada daily. Vijayakarnataka had given contact details of Jeevika for the purpose of getting information or getting involved on bonded labour. Gayathri from Vivekananda Vichara Vedike on reading the report on Asha offered Rs.10,000/- to Jeevika to see that Asha was free. The Jeevika activists in Kudligi taluk & Bellary District, Bommakka, Lakshmi and Somashekar, were representing to the DC to get Asha freed and then were planning to give her the amount for her support. Due to enormous delay by the District Administration, the Jeevika activists including the District in charge, Narayanaswamy of Gudibande, gave Rs. 10,000/- to the Hotel owner on 8 November had set her free. Since Asha is now free, the family is planning to marry her off in the coming months.