Bonded labourers’ annual income: 160 kg paddy

Kumar Luintel

Damak, January 15:

Bodh Raj Satar, 45, of Lakhanpur VDC-4, Jhapa has been a bonded labourer since five years of age at a local landlord’s house. His wife and four children are serve the master with him.

Bodh Raj said the master has been paying the family some 160 kg paddy each year for his work. His is one of the 56 Satar families of Lakhanpur and Sataridham VDCs forced to live as bonded labourers. They said that they were forced to continue the life of bonded labourer because their fathers and great grandfathers had set the system of serving the rich landlords.

Rinkumani Satar said the wage is very low to support the family, adding, he had never been able to buy new clothes for his two children, leave alone sending them to a school. A landowner, who would only give his last name Nepal, of Lakhanpur claimed the Satars were working at his place on their own choice. Lakhi Ram Santhal, the secretary of Indigenous Santhal Club said the Tharus of the western Nepal were relieved of their bonded life but the Satars were still reeling under the inhumane condition. There is no evidence of their bonded livelihood and the Satars are helpless because of landlords’ pressure, Santhal said.

A recent study conducted by Himali Youth Club showed that the Satars sought an end to the bonded labour system. The study also revealed that five out of 75 Satar families own land of their own.