Rautes ask govt to let them live their own way

Himalayan News Service

Lalitpur, May 12:

Fed up with the attempts of several organisations to make them ‘civilised’, the mukhiya (chief) of the Raute tribe living in a jungle in the far-western hills of Nepal, called on

the government and other organisations to let them lead their lives in their own ways.

The Rautes are facing extinction due to deforestation, urbanisation, and unfavourable political situation in the country.

“Leave us alone. We want to live in whatever way we have been living for centuries,” said Maen Bahadur Shahi, the leader of a six-member team who is here on a 10-day-long observation visit.

Shahi was addressing a programme organised by the National Foundation for the Development of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN).

“We were born nomads,” said Shahi, adding that the government’s efforts to make them live like urban citizens won’t work.

The mukhiya highlighted the problems they were facing due to prohibition in certain jungles and demanded the government to let them enter the community and government forests for their livelihood.

“Agriculture can never be an alternative for us. We will die, but won’t plough the fields,” he said.

Expressing grave concern over frequent aerial strikes, the Raute chief urged the government not to launch aerial strikes in their places.

The Rautes came to the capital bare-footed and in their traditional attires.

Out of the six members, three Rautes left for Nepalgunj today as they could not live in the urban environment.

Unlike the Rautes, a pair of Lepcha tribals, who are also facing extinction, were well-informed and educated. Kumari Lepcha, who came all the way from Fikkal of Ilam, said she was pursuing Bachelor’s degree in Education.

Recalling the touching comments of Maen Bahadur Shahi, chairman of the Rajparishad Standing Committee, Parasu Narayan Chaudhary, said all the indigenous nationalities have their own ways of living, desires and feelings, and it’s the duty of the State to work for their uplift.

Professor Santa Bahadur Gurung, chairman of the National Foundation for the Development of Indigenous Nationalities executive body, said the main objective of the visit was to motivate the Rautes towards development works.