-Shiva Hari Gyawali
After visiting several parts of the country in recent eight years I have realized inhuman thinking and cast-based discriminations that have been prevailing in our society for long. Much have been talked about federal republic, equality, justice but our behavior is so violent that feces are being fed to Dalit and beaten to death in 21st century.
The most disappointing moment is that leaders of political parties, teachers, police administration and locals did nothing in protesting against these inhuman practices to people of so-called lower cast communities. It seems that even NGOs and INGOs opened for ensuring rights and benefits of Dalit are doing nothing than issuing press statements and commenting loudly in media. Given the context, it is essential to initiate a cultural revolution by bringing all forces on board instead of engaging in a blame game. Here are some representative case studies of rights violation witnessed in recent days:
On August 31, 2016, I met Santa Bahadur Damai, 27, of Dailekh in district headquarters. He had arrived to district headquarters after competing funeral procession of his father and I showed him a photo taken on bank of Tamekhola, the river nearby his village. It shows her mother, Amrita Damai is weeping bowing down on pyre. Tears are rolling down on her cheeks. After looking picture he caught my hands tightly and tears soaked into his eyes. He did not speak anything.
Santa Bahadur, a local of Dhanigaon of Dailekh, has had love affairs with Rajkumari Shahi, daughter of Bhakta Bahadur. He tried to give a break up with the girlfriend without success. They ultimately got married on August 13, 2011.
Locals tried to dismiss the marriage by bring back the bride. They failed to do so. And failed to accomplish their mission Ms. Bindeshwori Shahi, who is also former treasurer of Federation of Nepalese Journalist (FNJ) Dailekh Chapter, attacked at the family members of Santa Bahadur in the mid-night with the intent of killing all family members including her niece Rajkumari. The assailants attacked his father with knife when he tried to save his newly son and daughter-in-law and later escaped from there. Next day, the injured was taken to district headquarter for the treatment. The hospital administration subsequently transferred him to Surkhet Regional Hospital after failing to handle his critical health condition. Sete on August 30 last year breathed his last at the Hospital. Interestingly, the government had endorsed Caste Based Discrimination and Untouchability (Offence and Punishment) Act, 2068 just three months before Sete’s killing.
A day after meeting Santa Bahadur a media dialogue entitled “Collective Voices for Human Rights and Dignity” was being organized by Jagaran Media Center at the hall of District Development Committee. As many as 80 participants were attending the dialogue in which Chief District Officer Luk Bahadur Chhetri, District Police Chief Kedar Rajaure and Human Right Alliance Chairperson Khadga Sijapati were invited in dais as speakers.
At the function a woman, who looked like already crossed 60 years, complained that her 14-years old son was denied from getting birth registration. The lady, Sita Bishwokarma of Badabhairav-4 Dailekh, has a tragic story. Nar Bahadur Thapa, 54, raped her while she was cutting grass in farmland. Locals arranged her marriage with 69-years old Ganga Bahadur BK after she was pregnant. Ganga Bahadur got NRs 60,000 and accepted pregnant woman as wife.
She gave birth to additional three daughters during her 13-years living together with Ganga Bahadur. Her three daughters got birth registration certificates but the son was deprived for the same after Ganga Bahadur refused to accept him as son and provide parental property. Sita, who is currently living with her parents, is waiting for justice.
On February 7, Ajit Mijar, a local of Panchkhal Municipality-6 got married with a non-Dalit of Jyamdi. Two days later, Panchkhal Police Office produced them before parents and warned nobody would be responsible if the boy or girl faces any consequences. Just two days after the warning the boy was found hanged in Kampur Village Development Committee ward no. 3 of Dhading district. His foot had touched the ground and this was happening 100 kilometer away from police station.
Police itself conducted fake postmortem citing bad smelling and buried the dead bodies on the bank of stream considering that the flood could take away dead body in rainy season. The victims reached to Dhading and requested the police to see dead body. When excavator pulled out the dead body of Ajit from graveyard there was no injury at all. Only hairs were broken.
Later, his dead body was brought to Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) for second round of autopsy. The postmortem ruled out any sign of suicide. Dalit Civil Society Organizations and a cross-party Dalit Struggle Committee protested in Kavre and Kathmandu demanding to take action against those found involved in killing Ajit. Six months elapsed since his death but nothing has been progressed in booking his murders. His dead body is still lying at TUTH.
Aforementioned cases are only tip of iceberg. The killing of Laxmi Pariyar in Bangthali of Kavre is the most recent case of human rights violation. Hira Lama, a local schoolteacher and his mother fed feces and beat her to the death. After beating her police fined NRs 6000 for Laxmi and settled the case. Four days after settling the case her dead body was found in cow shed. Dalit community was taken to street demanding justice to the victims. Her son, Suman, himself joined the protest rally. Suman, who was also deprived from care of his father after he was put behind the bar, was participating the rally together with his uncle. The scribe managed to capture partially opened eyes of Suman, his ailing face and anger of his uncle in a photo.
These are just few representative cases. By observing all these cases I often feel whether we are not selling Dalit’s tears collecting them in a plate. Are we really supporter of social justice and equality when we are silent despite series of these killings? Let’s imagine what would have happened if aforementioned Sete Damai, Manbir Sunar, Shiva Shankar Das, Ram Bahadur Sharki, Kumar Nepali, Ajit Mijar and Laxmi Pariyar were from so-called upper cast?, who had lost their life being a Dalit. How does it affect a family when their family members are killed and why we are not raising voices against this?
Whether only Dalit should speak when the people are killed just because of getting birth in lower cast? Or it is also the responsibility of non-Dalit to speak out against rights violations? Are not these inhuman and violent killing and series of rape teasing to a civilized society? How would we be disappointed if we were born in Dalit family and our mother was fed feces, or faced killing after having love relations or untouchability? That’s why let’s think from Dalit prospective and end tendency of killing them in a vain.
Courtesy: Nepal Weekly of Kantipur Publication 9/1/2017