Local voices living behind the labour lines - India

By admin

A life in chains

Interviews and photographs by Sudhir Katiyar and Mina Jadav.

Nand Kishor

Nand Kishor, 23, construction labourer from Jharkhand: “What to say? I have two children one of ten years old and other one is of three months. Parents call me to come back to home, but how? They are crying. I didn’t get a little bit of wage. I don’t understand what to do? How to go back to home without money, how to send them home expenses. Whatever happened with me, that happened. But I want that my children never face such kind of terrifying circumstances. I want to educate my children.”

Ajmel Bhai Mohaniya

Ajmel Bhai Mohaniya, 24, agriculture labourer from Gujarat: “I’m illiterate, that’s why I have to do this kind of work. We make an important role in the crop production, which we give to the owner. But all we get only a low amount of wage. I want my children [to] grow up.”

Babita Mosi

Babita Mausi (Baldev), transgender, 34, construction worker: “I have been working for 13 years. It is not certain if we will get work or not at the naka (labor market where workers gather in the morning). We get work for around 10 to 15 days a month and go back on the remaining days. I live with my family. I have wife and a son. I got married at a very young age. We have been doing wage labor but do not want the same life for our son. That is why we have got him enrolled in school. We will do hard labor ourselves but ensure that our son gets educated. Government should give loan[s] to workers. The workers need to have their own houses.”

Ranjan Ben

Ranjan Ben, senior citizen and widow, 60, wage labourer: “I have no one of my own. My sons have left me. My husband has died. I live alone on a rented plot. There is no one to look after me. That is why I have to come to the naka every day. When I get work then I earn something, otherwise I come back home empty handed. I have filled the form for widow pension many times but nothing has happened. I want a home and some monetary support.”


Mukesh Aadivasi, 16, white washing labouer: “My parents passed away when I was very young. I have been reared by villagers. I have been inside a school. I want to be known by my community. That is why I use my community’s surname. I want to study and move ahead in life. Will any one support me?”

Rupa Bhai

Roopa Bhai Pargi, 50, wage share cropping: “I undertook a contract to perform all wage labour at a farm. I got many workers from my village. I was to get share of the crop output. However, farmer cheated me at the end. He did not give my share. I had to take a large amount on loan to pay back the workers. Since then I have been trying to get back my due wages through legal means. For four years, I have been running from pillar to post. My children are also destined to do wage labor. I am an illiterate tribal hoping that I will get justice.”

Bharat Bhai

Bharat Bhai, 35, carrier (carrying brick kilns) in brick kiln: “My whole life has been spent amongst bricks. I do not want that my children should work in brick kilns. I have enrolled my daughter in school. I am also constructing my home. My dream is to own a good house.”

Geeta (Name Changed), 16, brick kilns labourer (victim of rape), from Gujarat: “I want to be educate[d] more and more. The incident happened with me, I wish to God help me in forgetting it. I want to grow up in my life.”

Ramila Ben, 32, construction labourer from Gujarat: “We live in the dark of the world. We face every kind of problem such as water, sanitation, education, health. We build the building , we build the home for others but where are our homes? How could people ignore us? Are we not human beings?”