Freed haliyas said the government had not done anything to address their problems.

District Haliya Free Society, Bajura Chairman Lal Bir Sarki said the state was least bothered about the problems facing the haliya community, such as acute food crisis. The government continued to ignore the discussion held between District Haliya Free Society and Budhinanda Municipality.

The government had declared haliyas free on 6 September 2008. The then Peace and Reconstruction Minister Janardhan Sharma, on behalf of the Nepal Government, and National Haliya Free Society had signed a five-point agreement.

However, the haliya system is still prevalent in the country even though the evil practice was abolished in theory.

There are as many as 1,700 haliyas in Bajura alone.

The government had helped with the rehabilitation of some haliya families as per the agreement with the haliyas.

Man Bir Sarki, a haliya, said they were facing a lot of problems as the government had not been honest in implementing the agreement. The haliyas said they would soon announce protest programmes. Lal Bir said they would move ahead with the protest in coordination with other stakeholders.

Man Bire Luhar of Budhiganga Municipality ploughs his landlord's field throughout the year. In return, he receives just a sack of paddy and a sack of wheat. He cannot look after his family with the food grains provided by his landlord. Luhar works as a daily wager in the local Kolti Bazaar to manage his family's daily needs.

Prem BK said they were compelled to plough the field of the landlord even though the government had declared them free. He said the haliyas could not complain to the landlord about their plight because if they did so, the landlord would ask them to return the money he had given them as loan.

Most of the haliyas are suffering from diseases as they cannot go to a health facility due to lack of money. The health condition of female haliyas is worse.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 4, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.