The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Boy in chains for debt of Rs 1600

Calcutta, Aug. 30: Mohammad Rabiul slogged during the day, only to spend the night in chains in a factory on the edge of Calcutta.

The 15-year-old’s crime: he was unable to repay the Rs 1,600 he had borrowed from his employer, Abhijit Poddar.

The medieval debt chamber came to light today when police raided a leather goods unit in Tiljala, on the eastern fringe of the city, after being alerted by the boy’s family.

Poddar, who employed the boy as a labourer a few months ago, was arrested on charges of abducting the minor boy and confining him wrongfully.

“The boy was looking exhausted, frightened and weak. He was not even given adequate food,” said an officer of Tiljala police station.

After the rescue, Rabiul, a resident of Kultali in South 24-Parganas, 60 km from Calcutta, provided a blow-by-blow account of the ordeal he had to undergo for over a fortnight.

Rabiul’s nightmare began on the night of August 10. “After a day’s hard labour, he used to chain both my legs and tie them to an iron bar. I was confined in a small dingy room,” Rabiul said. “He used to give minimum food twice a day. The dinner was two rotis and a glass of water. No one would come to me at night.”

According to the police, the boy’s family did not suspect anything initially as he used to stay in the factory and go home only twice or thrice a month. He was supposed to return home last week.

“Rabiul’s family became anxious and started looking for him only when he did not return even after a fortnight,” said Rajesh Kumar Singh, additional superintendent of police, South 24-Parganas.

Rabiul’s elder brother Saidul Islam met Poddar but was not satisfied with the response. Saidul then went to Tiljala police station and lodged a complaint.

“The boy took the loan to help his family members at Kultali. He had promised to repay the amount within 15 days,” an officer said.

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