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SC notice on hands-chop

New Delhi, Jan. 27: The Supreme Court today moved on its own to take up the case of two labourers whose right hands were chopped off for refusing to work at a brick kiln after being hired for harvesting crop.

Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who took suo motu cognisance of a newspaper report on the brutal assault last month, issued notices to the chief secretaries of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh and asked them to respond within four weeks.

The migrant labourers — part of a group of 14 being taken to Raipur, Chhattisgarh — were from Odisha. The contractor who hired them was from Andhra Pradesh.

“Considering the report published in the news item of The Hindu dated 3rd January, 2014, we are inclined to examine the same. Issue notice to the chief secretary, state of Odisha, as well as to the chief secretary, state of Andhra Pradesh, returnable in four weeks,” the bench said.

The contractor is alleged to have hired the labourers from Kalahandi, Odisha, by paying them Rs 14,000 each. The labourers were told they were being hired for working in paddy fields in Chhattisgarh but the real motive was to engage them in brick kilns in Raipur.

When the labourers, who were in a vehicle, realised the contractor’s plan, most of them escaped as the vehicle neared the Borda outpost in Kalahandi.

But Nilambar Dhangada Majhi, 23, and Pialu Dhangada Majhi, 25, from Nuaguda village under Jaipatna police station in Kalahandi district, could not. The victims said the contractor detained them and threatened the two with dire consequences if the others did not return.

Later, the contractor and his associates who, one of the victims said, were drunk, chopped off the right palms of the two labourers and fled.

Nilambar Majhi, who lost his right palm, told reporters the contractor and his henchmen chopped off their hands with an axe.

“He said we were paying the price for our group defying his orders and that he would not leave us physically fit to work again,” Nilambar said.