Migration Narratives: The SHRAM Blog

Pooja’s rescue and return to Odisha: Gram Utthan Case Study

Pooja* was just seventeen years old, and had been employed as a domestic worker in a household in Kolkata from a very young age. Pooja’s father was a migrant labourer who had been working in Kolkata for many years. However due to a severe illness, he returned to Odisha, leaved his daughter in Kolkata to work. Four of her family members in Odisha depend on Pooja’s small income.

Pooja was compelled to drop out of school when she was in the sixth grade. She was working hard to support her family but the behaviour of her employer’s wife soon became intolerable. Pooja was tortured and forced to endure verbal abuse, slapping and kicking. Her employer refused to help Pooja, and remained silent while his wife abused her. One day, Pooja decided she could not continue to suffer this treatment and decided to leave.

One day when the couple was going out to the cinema, Pooja ran away. She travelled by train and wanted to return to Odisha, but accidentally boarded a train to Mumbai instead of Bhubaneswar. She was apprehended by the Railway Police and was sent to a ‘Bal Sudhar Gruha’ (Child Correction Centre) at Mumbai.

Pooja’s employer telephoned her father to inform him that that his daughter was missing. He immediately informed the nearest police station. He was distraught at the thought of his daughter’s plight, and came to the Shramik Sahayata aur Suchana Kendra for assistance. The Kendra registered the case and also helped him file an FIR in the police station, as well as garner media attention. After investigation, the Mumbai police informed the Odisha police about Pooja’s whereabouts, and the Kendra sent Harischandra to Mumbai by train. At Mumbai one of the Shramik Mitras helped him to locate his daughter.

On meeting her father, Pooja was overcome with emotion. From Kolkata to a Mumbai correction home, her tumultuous and terrifying journey was one of the most difficult phases in her life. Pooja says that the efforts of the Shramik Sahayata aur Suchana Kendra have given her a second chance at life, and that she will always be indebted to Gram-Utthan.


Gram-Utthan logo
Established in 1990 for rural development, ‘Gram-Utthan‘ literally means ‘raising the village’. Its mission is to enable the poor and disadvantaged and bring about qualitative changes in their lives.

Radhika M. Chakraborty

Radhika M. Chakraborty

Radhika M Chakraborty has completed a degree in English Literature from Delhi University and a Master's degree in Women's Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Her research interests include gender and migration, diasporas, Partition, internal displacement and Sindhi culture.
Radhika M. Chakraborty

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