Bajura's Haliya community files complaint with NHRC seeking rights to live

BAJURA: The Haliya community in Bajura district has filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), seeking their rights to live.

As many as 48 people from Pipaldali in Budhinanda Municipality-1 represented the complaints on behalf of the community.

The complaint has been filed as they have been deprived of economic, social and cultural rights despite the government's announcement of 'free Haliya', community member Manvir Luwar said. The government made the announcement over a decade ago on September 6, 2008.

Luwar said, the community had submitted the memo to the government time and again demanding that their rights to live be ensured, however, when the government did not give any attention, they had to file a complaint at NHRC based in Dhangadhi.

The complaint has been attached with demands that urge the government to bring rehabilitation programmes and provide five kattha land along with a house, along with implementing the five-point deal which the government has committed to, NHRC Dhangadhi chief said.

Other demands include distribution of food grains to the community to address the scarcity of food due to COVID-19 pandemic. Further, the complaint also includes their appeal to the government to verify the identification of haliyas who have not been listed. The haliya community has also demanded that their children be provided with free higher education and that technical education also be made available.

Meanwhile, NHRC chief Joshi said the attention of the government would be drawn to the issues after conducting an onsite inspection.

Local Hansa Lal Luwar said he, like his forefathers, was obliged to work in other's field as a labourer since he did not own any land.

The government has committed to fulfilling the five-point demands that include a waiver of debt, rehabilitation management, security management, and addressing other issues to ease the plights of the community.

Local Harka Lal Luwar said, "Amid COVID-19 pandemic, it has become difficult to earn a living since we have no job, in addition to which the creditors keep pressurising us to pay back the debt. Those who do have work are not provided with satisfactory wages."

It has been reported that women and children in the community have been living in a difficult condition. Most of them have been suffering from malnutrition due to shortage of food, according to executive director Ashok Singh at FIAN Nepal, a non-government organisation. He said, the majority of pregnant women in the community suffer from gastritis, ulcers, asthma, chest pain, other ailments related to the uterus due to lack of proper nutrition.

Commonly, children attend school up to the primary level, after which, they do not study since there are no educational institutions near their community. These challenges are added to their financial problem.

Of the total 1,634 members in haliya community in Bajura, the government has listed only 1,462 members. Those remaining are missing in the verification list.