Lohars still chained by khale pratha

Himalayan News Service

Darchula, May 5:

The Dalits of Maltadi of Dadakot VDC-7, Darchula district, are still bound by the khale pratha.

Khale pratha is the tradition of giving the labourers a certain amount of grain harvested

annually. A meadow scrubbed with cow dung and soil for the paddy harvest is known as khala, and the total quantity of grain given once in a year to workers working the khala is Khale. Despite millions being spent by international aid agencies for Dalit uplift, over 1,500

Dalits belonging to the Lohar family here are still chained by khale pratha. Neither the authorities concerned nor NGO representatives seem to be troubled by the Lohars’ plight. It appears that they have no time even to listen to their story.

According to the pratha, eight to 10 pathis of millet, maize and barley are given to each labourer. But this obviously is not enough for them to survive the year through. Even the rotting grain is said to be God’s gift. They say they consider themselves lucky when they are able to eat taste rice during Dashain and Tihar. And due to the lack of a good alternative to earn a living, they are compelled to carry on with their life this way. The Lohars are also involved in making agricultural equipment and utensils. The Lohars said racial equity and law and order are to them no more than the pot at the end of the rainbow. Lack of education and social awareness is said to blame for their condition. But many say the state is equally responsible for the pitiable condition and has not done enough for the uplift of the Dalits in the area.