Kamaiyas forced to lead miserable lives

Ramechhap, August 2:

Kamaiyas of Sukajor Village Development Committee (VDC) Ward No 1 here have been forced to lead miserable lives.

Thirty-odd families of Birtatar, which lies on the banks of the Sunkoshi River, have been sweating it out in houses and fields of landlords to eke out a living.

The state has emancipated the kamaiyas, but the emancipation remains on paper. It has failed to liberate these bonded labourers from servitude.

“Although the government declared kamaiyas free, we cannot eke out a living without labouring in the houses of landlords,” 70-year-old Het Bahadur Magar, the head of a 10-member kamaiya family, says, adding that the landlords had seized land of several kamaiyas on the charge of defiance.

Het Bahadur hopes to lead a life of pleasure and plenty once he is freed.

“The landlords will not employ us if we talk about their injustice. That is why, we have been forced to serve the landlords without complaining,” Kamala Bhujel says.

Kamaiyas have been forced to work in the houses and fields of landlords for 18 hours a day. Despite this back-breaking labour, they fear landlords may sack them anytime.

Earlier, these bonded labourers used to live in caves near the village. Nowadays, they are living in landlords houses and cultivating their land.

The kamaiyas complain that they also have to work as porters to make a living as foodstuff given by landlords is barely enough. “We have to take care of buffaloes and cows until they deliver calves. Thenafter, the landlords take cattle with them,” Kamala laments.