Tribal girl's death: Maha minister admits she was a bonded labourer
Opposition leaders, including Ambadas Danve, Eknath Khadse and Shashikant Shinde pressed Tribal Development Minister Vijaykumar Gavit to make a statement on the girl's death
Maharashtra Tribal Development Minister Vijaykumar Gavit on Friday admitted in the Legislative Council that a tribal girl who died in September 2022 worked as a bonded labourer, drawing criticism from Opposition members.
The practice of bonded labour is banned in the state.
As he replied to a question related to Ashram Shalas' run for tribal children, Gavit was also asked to respond on the death of a 10-year-old tribal girl from Nashik district about six months ago.
The girl had been taken to work in the Ahmednagar district but her employer dumped her outside her parents' home when she was quite unwell. The girl, who had injury marks on her body, died during treatment later.
Opposition leaders, including Ambadas Danve, Eknath Khadse and Shashikant Shinde pressed Gavit to make a statement on the girl's death and demanded to know whether she was sold.
Trying to counter the Opposition members, Gavit said, "The girl was not sold but was a bonded labourer. She was working with a family in Parner tehsil of Ahmednagar."
While Gavit's admission came as an embarrassment for the Eknath Shinde-BJP government, it also prompted rival MLCs to target the government.
Janata Dal member Kapil Patil said, "Maharashtra has officially banned bonded labour through an act. It is shameful that the minister openly admits to the prevalence of such a practice in the state. Gavit should explain to the House how the girl was made to work as a bonded labourer."
Khadse said Gavit's statement in the Upper House is a reflection of what he called the government's inefficiency.
"I can understand negligence in providing some facilities but the sale or bonded labour involving children is unpardonable. The state should not take such incidents lightly," he said.
Gavit faced many allegations of corruption when he was a part of the Congress-NCP government. He switched over to the BJP ahead of the 2014 general elections.
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