Bajura, July 5
Kiththi Badi of Chainpur, Bajhang has been living without a roof for the last four years, after a local money-lender padlocked her small hut because she could not pay back the money that her husband owed.
Kiththi had at first sought refuge at her neighbour’s house with her three children; but when the money-lender began harassing her daily for the money, she moved to a kin’s house in Kot Bhairav, where she has been living for the last one year.
Many Badi women in the district headquarters have a similar story. There are around 15 Badi families living in the village in abject poverty, many subjected to daily disgrace at the hands of moneylenders, shopkeepers and other people.
Rama Badi, a local, had left the village in search of employment after she couldn’t pay her debts, leaving her five-year-old daughter under the care of relatives.
“Rama left the village five years ago so that she could find a job to pay her debts and make ends meet. The last I heard, she was living in Mumbai,” said Padam Badi, a local.
Another local Bam Badi said, “Often, money-lenders storm into our houses and take away the little rice we receive by begging, and we are forced to sleep on empty stomachs.” Bam added that it was common for money-lenders to fleece more than the actual amount lent.
On her part, local money-lender Laxmi Sunar said that ten people of the Badi community owed her a debt of around Rs 500,000. “The people owe us large sums of money, and we also need to make a living. Many of them never pay their debts, and we are forced to resort to stern measures to get our money back,” she said.
Another local money lender Duda Sunar denied that he ever mistreated those who owed him money. “There are other money lenders who take up false measures to get their money back, but I have never done that. I just frequently remind them of the debts they owe me,” he said.
A version of this article appears in print on July 06, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.