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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Thane Made to slave for years for free homes built on government land

Thane: Made to slave for years for free homes built on government land

Updated on: 08 December,2023 04:51 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Diwakar Sharma | diwakar.sharma@mid-day.com

Accused told tribals they would have to work without wages to live in house that was theirs by right

Thane: Made to slave for years for free homes built on government land

The house set up by the accused on government land under a gram panchayat scheme. Pics/Hanif Patel

Key Highlights

  1. Police have arrested 2 brothers for forcing Katkari tribals to work for them as labourers
  2. The duo had allegedly forced them to sign documents to withdraw money from banks
  3. The accused then got a pucca house set up on government land

The Manpada police have arrested two brothers, belonging to a regional political party, for forcing Katkari tribals in Kalyan’s Khoni village to work for them as bonded labourers for decades. The duo had allegedly forced them to sign documents to withdraw money from banks to avail of government schemes. The accused then got a pucca house set up on government land and told them that were living there at their mercy. Since the duo—Sanjay Patil, 40, and Vijay Patil, 45—had got the pucca house made, they would force tribal families to work in their fields.


Ashok Waghe, the complainant
Ashok Waghe, the complainant


“Whenever I went to ask them for remuneration, the Patil brothers would beat us badly. We could not think of working somewhere else; otherwise, the brothers would thrash us badly in front of everyone and threatened to evacuate the house, claiming that the land and house belonged to them; and if we wanted to continue staying there, we would have to work in their field without asking for any wages,” the complainant Ashok Waghe said in his statement to the Manpada police. The FIR was registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Bonded Labour System Abolition Act against the brothers on December 3.


Complainant Speak

A couple of years ago, the brothers had got a pucca house made for six tribal families on government land under a gram panchayat scheme. At the time of converting their thatched hut into a house, the accused had told them that the land on which the houses were built belonged to them and they had spent a huge amount to make a liveable space. And, in return, the Patil brothers forced them to work in their fields even if they were sick. Waghe, 50, has been residing with his wife Suman at his in-laws’ house in Khoni village in Kalyan since marriage. The other Katkari tribals who live in the village are Sunil, Sundari, Changibai, Baby and Ankita Waghe, according to the FIR.

(From left) Activist Goteram Waghe; Khoni residents Sunil, Sunita, Suman, Ashok and Sundari Waghe; Rajesh Channe and two other activists. Pics/Hanif Patel(From left) Activist Goteram Waghe; Khoni residents Sunil, Sunita, Suman, Ashok and Sundari Waghe; Rajesh Channe and two other activists. Pics/Hanif Patel

“The houses were built in a row in the chawl at the village. The Patil brothers would always tell me to bring my wife and other tribals from my wadi to work in their farms and do hard work as they had made us a pucca house. We would forcibly cultivate paddy, harvest rice, sweep and thrash. We would not get any wages for this work. If we dared to go to work somewhere else to make money, they would abuse us and beat us mercilessly,” the complainant said. “And when the paddy season ended, the Patil brothers would make us work at a contractor’s site and would force us to mine sand at low wages,” he alleged.

Activist’s claims

A social activist, Rajesh Channe, told mid-day that these tribal families had lived on government land for the past 40 years. “Since the tribals are poor and illiterate, they had been living in huts. Taking advantage of them, the accused got gram panchayat funds sanctioned for making pucca houses for these tribals. At the time of getting the funds, the accused would take them to the bank. Each tribal had been sanctioned Rs 1.40 lakh from the gram panchayat to make a pucca house and six such tribals in the area had been living there for the past four decades in their huts,” said Channe, who is a member of Shramjeevi Sangathana, which works for the betterment of tribals in Maharashtra.

The house set up by the accused on government land under a gram panchayat scheme
The house set up by the accused on government land under a gram panchayat scheme

“After the tribals’ bank accounts were credited, all the money was withdrawn at the bank and the accused would give hardly R500 to each tribal to go back home,” Channe added. “After seizing nearly Rs 8.50 lakh from these tribal families, the Patil brothers removed the hutments at their village and got the pucca house made for the families,” he added.

Health issues

The complainant told the police that he had a paralysis attack around six years ago. “After that, I was unable to go to work at Patil’s farm as I was on medication. So, Patil brothers did not spare me even here. They got a government scheme sanctioned under my name and bought 14 goats out of the sanctioned fund,” he said.

“The brothers told me that the goats belonged to them but they were giving them to me to herd them. I was told by them that I was their partner in this business, but they would always sell the adult goats and I was not given a single penny,” said Waghe, alleging that he has been beaten mercilessly by Patil brothers on multiple occasions.

Vijay Patil, Sanjay Patil, the accused
Vijay Patil, Sanjay Patil, the accused

“I cannot see through my left eye. And if my condition was bad, I would not herd the goats. But they would not care about my deteriorating health and would always beat me for not going to work,” he said. “On December 2, my wife had gone to Palghar and I was all alone at the house in Kalyan. Since there was nothing to eat at home and also, I was unwell, I overslept and could not go herding,” reads the FIR.

“When Vijay Patil came to know that about this, he came to my house and started to hit me on my thigh. Later, he picked up a small wooden stick lying in front of my house and continued to rain blows mercilessly,” he alleged. “Though I had been telling him I was unwell, he did not give two hoots,” he added.

The social activist Channe said, “The brothers smartly facilitated bank loans to Waghe to buy 14 goats from nearby areas. Over time there were a total of 80 goats, including the adult ones. But brothers sold out the adult ones and they did not give a single penny to Waghe who had been herding the animals despite being ill.”

Police case

The matter reached Manpada police station only after Waghe’s wife met activists in Vasai taluka and the cops were asked to register an FIR against Patil brothers. The Assistant Commissioner of Police Sunil Kurade said, “We have arrested the  brothers and they will be in police custody till December 11. This is a big case and the investigation is underway.”

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