Storm-hit Dalits living under open sky

Bara, April 3

Relief material is yet to reach Hardiya village of Subarna Rural Municipality in Bara district that was ravaged by the devastating storm on Sunday, with more than 70 backward and impoverished Dalit families living out in the open.

The worst affected are the Dalit families who used to live in shanties along the main street of Hardiya. The storm razed their huts to the ground, leaving them without shelter.

Sadly, government authorities have yet to reach Hardiya to take stock of the damage and provide storm victims with relief. Non-government agencies too have not reached the village yet.

“Yadavs (people from a higher caste) chase us away when we approach them for shelter,” Maheswori Ram Chamar, 70, whose hut caved in during the storm, told THT. Another storm victim, Maneshar Ram Chamar, had erected makeshift shelter with bamboo sticks. He has been living there with his two sons and wife Manju. “Red Cross has provided us with mosquito nets and Subarna Rural Municipality has been running a collective mess at the village primary school for meals. No one else has come to our aid,” said Maneshar.

Bhajan Ram, 70, said Province 2 Chief Minister Lalbabu Raut and Janamat Party leader CK Raut visited the storm-hit families on Monday and assured them of assistance, but no relief had reached them. “We have yet to receive tents,” said Ram.

Subarna Rural Municipality Chair Mahendra Prasad Yadav said 300 houses, including those in Hardiya, were completely destroyed while 200 houses were partially damaged in the storm in the rural municipality.

Yadav said the rural municipality was running two collective messes to provide food to storm victims. He said his office would provide Rs 51,000 each to the families who had lost any member, besides Rs 1,000, utensils and food items to each of the storm-affected families.

Yadav complained that the federal and provincial governments had yet to send relief material to storm victims of Hardiya.

Federal lawmaker and Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Spokesperson Ram Sahaya Yadav flayed the provincial and federal governments for showing apathy to Hardiya’s storm victims. “The state has to provide succour to victims of storm at places other than the worst-hit Pheta Rural Municipality as well,” Yadav added.

Rajiya Khatun, 32, of Parsurampur and Shree Prasad Yadav, 80, of Hardiya were killed when their houses were reduced to rubble in the storm.