Untouchability cases being settled under duress

Bajura, December 27

Caste-based discrimination and untouchability is a punishable act under the existing legal system. However, offenders often go unpunished in Bajura.

On June 23, 2017, Prem Bahadur BK of Kanda in Chhededaha Rural Municipality-1 was forced to pay Rs 2,000 in fine for touching a buffalo belonging to Rajendra Bahadur Singh in the presence of Ward chair Bir Bahadur Rawal.

After the media covered the incident, rights activists asked BK to file a case at the district police office. However, the case was settled in the presence of some Dalit rights activists, political leaders and civil society members, providing Rs 80,000 to the victim as compensation.

Sub-inspector Krishan Khadka at the DPO, Bajura, said the victim refused to file a case with police and the matter was reconciled within the village.

Likewise, police constable Janak BK manned at Budhinandamai Darshan in Budhinanda Municipality some four years ago was sent back by the priest and locals, for this caste.

A team led by ASI Sher Bahadur Chand deployed to investigate the incident was pressured by the priest and locals against legal proceeding in the case.

The police constable filed a case at the DPO and also urged the media and rights activists to help him get justice. After national outcry, the priest Shreelal Bohora was arrested. But, the case was reconciled within the village with involvement of rights activists and civil society leaders.

In a similar incident, a group of people from the so-called high castes thrashed some members from the Dalit community for entering the Badimalika temple at the headquarters, Martadi on the day of Dashami during Dashain five years ago. Sita BK and Laxmi Bk were critically injured in the incident. However, the case was settled by giving some money to

the victims.

Many grave incidents related to caste-based discrimination have taken place in the district, but those cases have never entered any legal process.

CPN-UML district committee member and Dalit advocate Kashi BK said offences related to untouchability are often settled under duress or through monetary means.

Caste Based Discrimination and Untouchability (Offence and Punishment Act), 2068 states that someone who is guilty in an untouchability offence will be jailed for from 3 months to 3 years or will be slapped a fine ranging from Rs 1000 to Rs 25,000.