Poverty ails hapless Kamaiyas

JUKTINAGAR: Kamaiyas, bonded labourers of Nepal, were released on the second of Shrawan nine years ago. But on this historic day today, there is no joy or celebration in the Kamaiya settlements here in Bardiya. Instead of plans to celebrate the day, they have only grief and problems to share. “We don’t have enough food to sustain ourselves, how will we celebrate?” wonders an old Kamaiya living in a camp in Juddhanagar of Kalika VDC of the district. He said their lives itself had become a burden to them.

Sukdaiya, a Kamaiya residing in the same camp, is not going to celebrate the day when they were freed. She said she was more worried about her daily necessities than celebrating the day. Sixty-year-old Sukdaiya said they lived a life of scarcity and impoverishment. “I have slept several nights without food and I have sobbed many times when I did not get medicines when I was sick,” she lamented.

“We can see grief on every face in the Kamaiya settlement. The day holds no significance for us,” said Sukdaiya. Kamaiyas are desperately looking for jobs to feed their children and sustain themselves. Some say their life in the master’s house was better in comparison to the present squalor.

Condition of Kamaiyas living in Janatanagar of the district is worse than that of the camps in Juddhanagar. Nobody even cared for celebrations. Tikaram, a Kamaiya of Janatanagar said the government had them uncared for. Kamaiyas lamented that the government had done nothing worthwhile for them.

According to the data of the District Land Reform office, 11,875 released Kamaiyas were yet to be settled out of the 16,262 in Bardiya. They have been living on river banks and forests. Some of the Kamaiyas have returned to their masters, as the government could not resettle them. Kamaiya Bintiram Tharu said nothing had been done for the betterment of the Kamaiyas. He lamented that they had been spending sleepless nights on empty stomachs.

There is no facility of education, drinking water and health in their camps. Though, different organisations claim to work for the welfare of the Kamaiyas, their condition has yet to improve.

Deuba feels for bonded labourers

BANKE: Senior leader of the Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba on Friday said that the Kamaiyas continued to suffer in spite of their freed status as a result of political instability. Speaking at a programme organised by the Freed Kamaiya Society in Gularia, Deuba maintained that it was an erroneous decision to set Kamaiyas free without finding them an alternative means to earn livelihoods. Claiming that the plight of freed Kamaiyas could not be alleviated without bringing a logical end to the peace process, he said that the new constitution should ensure their rights. He also urged the government to solve their day-to-day problems. Kamaiyas had organised a rally prior to the programme. — HNS