Dalit Koshi victims feel side-lined by govt

Saptari, December 3:

Fifty Dalit families among 1,100 displaced Koshi flood victims taking shelter near Koshi barrage in Bharadaha of Saptari district have been forced to live as paupers.

Displaced from Sunsari’s Haripur, Sripur and India’s Birpur three months ago, they have been residing in a three-kilometre stretch along the Koshi River.

According to Bijaya Marik, who was displaced from Haripur, the Dalit victims have got nothing except the ration cards. Camp Management Chief Mahendra Marabaita said they had been compelled to live in the canal area due to the unavailability of alternatives. “The Dalits have been sheltering there since the other places were already occupied by other flood victims,” Marabaita said.

Ajaya Kumar Marik, who was displaced from India, said only ration cards were distributed to the Dalit settlement.

When this correspondent visited the settlement this morning, most of the Dalits were without adequate clothes to protect them from the shivering cold.

Sudip Pokharel, who came here from World Food Programme, Rajbiraj, to distribute relief items said he was not certain whether the displaced Dalits would be provided with clothes and cooking pots or not. Though the mercury is dipping, neither the local administration nor the concerned organisations have taken any step for their betterment.

According to an investigation carried out by Dalit Network Saptari, the 1,100 displaced families residing in the camp have received 1,429 ration cards. Of these, 300 ration cards were distributed illegally. According to Kusheshwor Sada, who was displaced from Sripur-4, a single family has been given many cards while a 12-member family has got only one card.