Dashain festival brings no cheer to freed Haliyas of Bajura

BAJURA: Freed Haliyas of 11 VDCs of Bajura are facing a hard time as the district experienced a long drought this year.

Haliyas were the bonded labourers who work for their landlords for want of their own lands. Though freed, they are still often dependent on the crops they earn after they work in the fields.

There are 1,634 freed Haliya families in 11 VDCs in northern Bajura including Kolti, Badhu, Kotila and Jukot among others.

Dabal Karki of Pipaldali, who has five members in his family, shared, “Everyone is wearing new clothes, enjoying delicacies at the Dashain festival, but we can only wish for them. We are more worried about our hand-to-mouth living.”

Another freed Haliya, Gangaram Luwar, said they had no other alternative than to work for the landlords to manage their lives. His Dashain this year has also been affected by the drought, he shared.

The District Agriculture Development Committee also informed that the crops in the districts have withered.

Lalmati Luwar, another previous bonded labour, said, “This year's Dashain would be a dasha (ill fate) for us than the Dashain. We do not even know how to feed our children regularly, let alone be in the festive season.”

The production was also affected in June earlier this year and the late monsoon had also disappointed the farmers, Devendra Luwar recalled.

The government had declared emancipation of Haliyas on September 5, 2008.

A total of 19,059 families of freed Haliyas have been verified by the government while it has also floated an action plan to rehabilitate 8,888 freed Haliyas within two years in two phases.