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Social Media Helps IJM Partner NGO Rescue of 56 from a Brick Kiln


Social Media Helps IJM Partner NGO Rescue of 56 from a Brick Kiln

IJM and our casework partner Jai Bhim Vikas Shikshan Sansthan (JBVSS) supported a complicated rescue operation in the state of Haryana. Fifty-six people—including many young children and babies—were brought out of bondage at a brick kiln, aided by the use of social media during the COVID-19 lockdown.


abourers in the kiln managed to send an emotional video to a journalist and JBVSS staff after spending months working nonstop. The kiln owner had given them a payment advance to work there, but then multiplied this debt and used it to keep them in bondage. Some labourers recently managed to scrape money together to pay their “debts” and leave, but the poorer families were trapped without hope.

The families also experienced repeated physical violence and threats and were not allowed to leave the worksite, even to buy food. By the time they called for help, they had been surviving for nearly a week only on cucumbers.

“The owner doesn’t give us any water to drink or food to eat,” one woman shared in her appeal. “He threatens to beat us with sticks if we don’t pay off the debt…All workers here are starving. Please save us. We are begging you to help us.”

Another woman shared, “Our kids are suffering. There’s no water and they are thirsty. There’s absolutely nothing to eat either…We are suffering here. We have a small hut, and the strong winds blow the tin [roof] off. How do we protect our children?”

“It’s been three months of being here,” a third woman shared woefully. “[The owner] does not give us any daily wages and says we have to work off the debt. He threatens us that if we don’t work to pay off the debt, he will make us dance naked…Get us out of here. Everyone here is dying of hunger and thirst. What do we do?”

IJM Partner begins to take action

On June 24, JBVSS started mobilizing the local community to help these desperate families. Using social media, they found grassroots NGOs who agreed to safely drop off food at the kiln (see this Twitter thread). Meanwhile, JBVSS started meeting with various local government officials—hoping to move them to action in the case.

That evening, a group of officials arrived at the kiln to resolve the situation. They quickly documented each of the labourers at the kiln, provided a small amount of compensation for their lost wages, and then arranged transportation to take them out of the kiln. JBVSS then helped arrange the families’ travel back to their homes in the nearby state of Uttar Pradesh.

On June 25, media coverage of the case reached officials at the Labor Department, who are conducting a fuller inquiry into the abuses these families faced. IJM will also connect the survivors to a lawyer in Haryana who can file a case on their behalf to the High Court. Two survivors remained in Haryana to provide their testimony, while the others returned home by bus on June 26.

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