Former haliyas face insult, threats from ex-masters

Tekendra Deuba

Silgadi (Doti), January 11:

Krishna Bahadur BK, belonging to Jora village of Mudbhara VDC, is no longer a haliya (bonded ploughman) after a petition at the District Administration Office, Doti, which declared him a free man. Despite the freedom, BK, continues to face insults and threats from the ‘upper caste’ people which has made it impossible for him to remain in the village.

The DAO, Doti, declared BK a free man on October 4, 2004, following his petition seeking freedom. He had been working as a haliya for Khadak Bahadur Kathayat for the past 10 years. “The upper caste people are threatening to expel me from the village,” he said, adding that three other haliyas had also filed a petition at the DAO. These men had taken the bold step when the Dalit liberation movement was gaining momentum. “Our masters were annoyed as we had gone against them. They insulted us and issued life threats as soon as we appealed to the DAO.” According to Tek Bahadur Mul of Jora village, the upper caste people have banned the Dalits from grazing their animals in the forests and have even started threatening their women and children. The Dalits also complained that ‘upper caste’ people were using derogatory words against them.

“They have stopped giving us our annual share of crops though we had worked in their fields for the entire year. We are even compelled to change our path.” They said that even those Dalits who had never been haliyas had to bear the brunt of ‘upper caste’ people.

Gorakh Bahadur Sarki, a member of Nepal Rastriya Dalit Samaj Kalyan Sangh, Doti, said the Dalits were facing trouble after they tried to raise voice against the age-old injustice. He informed that there were four appeals filed at the DAO.

Meanwhile, some haliyas have expressed their wish to withdraw their appeal fearing backlash from their respective masters and some have decided to enter their previous profession. Sarki informed that out of four haliyas, two had already been freed but were yet to receive compensation.