Haliya liberation limited to paper

Bajura, September 6

Eight years have passed since the government declared the liberation of Haliyas (bonded labourers).

After former Peace and Reconstruction Minister Janardan Sharma and National Haliya Free Society signed the five-point agreement on September 6, 2008, Haliyas were declared free.

However, failure to implement the declaration, has not helped the former bonded labourers and the practice of Haliya continues to remain rampant in Bajura.

Freed Haliyas, have been left in a lurch due to failure to execute the agreements on waiving the loan taken from money lenders, rehabilitating freed Haliyas and arranging their security.

Manbir Luwar from Pipaldali of Badhu VDC-5 had borrowed Rs 6,000 from local Dabal Karki five years ago. For failing to clear his debt, Luwar has been forced to work as Haliya at Karki’s house.

Manbir’s family has been running from one lender to another to eke out living. “We do not even have a single inch of land to grow crops. So, we have no choice but to work as Haliya for survival”, Manbir bemoaned. The government declared Haliyas free, but what impact did it have on people like us? Manbir wondered.

After working throughout the year at his lender’s house, Manbir receives just one sack of paddy grain and one sack of wheat a year. “It is not enough to feed my family. I work as a daily wage earner at Kolti Bazaar during my free time,” Manbir complained.

Gangaram Luwar of the same place had borrowed Rs 5,000 from local Gorakh Karki ten years ago. Failing to pay the debt, he was forced to work as Hailya at Karki’s house five years ago.

People from the Dalit community at Pipaldali have been working as Haliyas at the houses of non-Dalits. Senior Dalit Basant BK said that lack of rehabilitation had forced the freed Haliyas to work as Haliyas again.

According to District Haliya Society Bajura, the district has over 1,700 Haliyas and most of them are forced to work at the houses of money lenders as Haliyas.

Government data shows there are 1,634 Haliyas in the district. DAO Bajura, however, said that only 1,311 Haliyas were verified. Of them, only 926 have got their identity cards.