Odisha's vicious migration cycle: 'Do you want to part with your leg or hand?'

OdishaContractor Parvesh Duni threatened Dialu Niyal and Nilambar Dhangdamajhi to pay Rs. 2 Lakhs as a compensation for other 10 labours who fled while on their way to Duni' farming fields. (IE Photo: Pradeep Kumar Nayak)

A December night two desperate men, held captive by a labour contractor, were asked this, and had to make a choice. DEBABRATA MOHANTY reports on the latest victims of Orissa's vicious migration cycle

It had been a fortnight that Dialu Niyal and Nilambar Dhangdamajhi had been held captive and subjected to physical and verbal abuse. Nothing though had prepared them for what happened on December 15 night deep in a forest of Bolangir district. Labour contractor Parvesh Duni and his accomplices dragged them there and Duni, the two say, asked them which of their limbs they would rather lose: a leg or a hand.

"For a moment I was bewildered. Then Nilambar muttered to the contractor that if we have legs at least, we could walk for the rest of our lives. We told the contractor he could take our hands," says Niyal, speaking over the phone from his bed in VSS Medical College and Hospital in Burla, Sambalpur district. "They were arguing whether to kill us or leave us maimed. They concluded that they would chop the hand with which we had taken the advance for working in a kiln. First they chopped off Nilambar's right palm with an axe. As he was howling in pain, they held my right hand and someone landed a blow. Both of us passed out."

As soon as they came to, they hurried to a nearby hillock and hid. "Despite profusely bleeding, the two walked up the hill and climbed down to a farmer's barn the next morning. The farmer, after hearing their story, took them to the bus stop. A villager offered them a cheap plastic bag to cover their wounds. They took a bus to reach Bhawanipatna town of Kalahandi, where the locals took them to a hospital," says Kirtan Nayak, a journalist.

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