People from Badi community of Karnali Province have been staging protest in front of the Office of the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers in Karnali Province for nearly 10 days.

They have demanded land for farming.

A total of 440 families from the marginalised and most impoverished communities of Surkhet, Dailekh, Kalikot, Jajarkot and Salyan districts came together to launch a collective protest.

Protesters joined the protest carrying their infants and toddlers.

The incumbent government had promised land to the landless squatters.

Badi community leader Ramesh said, "We were compelled to stage protest after the government did not heed our pleas."

He said that the provincial government had been apathetic towards their demands.

On top of that, the police administration has been trying to vacate the spot where they have been launching their demonstration.

Another Badi youth Hikmat from Dailekh lamented, "We are compelled to spend nights under the open sky. The demands we have raised have fallen on deaf ears."

"Some social organisations have taken care of meals for the protesters," added Jeuri Badi, a mother, who had brought her baby along with her in the protest.

According to her, if they were provided land, they would earn their living with ease.

Parbati Badi of Dailekh said that the local authority had tried to suppress their protest. Security personnel were mobilised to remove them from the protest site.

"The number of Badis in Karnali Province is negligible.

That is why the provincial government is not taking them seriously," she opined.

The census of 2011 puts the number of Badi people at around 38,000. They are traditionally involved in fishing, making drums and musical instruments such as madal and sulpa, among others, and entertaining people with their dances and songs.

Meanwhile, National Human Right Commission has expressed its concern about the deteriorating health condition of the protesting Badis.

A team from the commission recently made a field visit of the place where the protest was staged and observed the protesters' condition.

The commission's Nepalgunj Chief Jhankar Bahadur Rawal said that the government should be serious about the demands of the marginalised Badi community.

Chief Minister of Karnali Province Mahendra Bahadur Shahi had, earlier, said the protesting Badis' demands could not be addressed since the issue did not come under their jurisdiction.

It had cast a spell of gloom among the protesters.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 4, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.