Skeletons of society

The Dalits of Balle in Rungha VDC, Rukum, have been barred from fetching water from public taps by ‘upper caste’ people. Likewise, the Chamars of Nainhi VDC, Mahottari, have been socially excluded on the decree of ‘high caste’ Yadhavs. The Nainhi Dalits have been banned even from walking on public streets. Their crime? They have refused to play the traditional drum (dhol) for free during Dashain. Surprisingly, the District Development Committee had installed the 32 public taps at Balle on the request of local Sunar community.

Anyone who bars a Nepali citizen from using public services faces a fine of Rs 3,000 and up to a year of imprisonment. On paper. In reality, voices of the Dalits are routinely silenced by the upper caste people through intimidation and threat of social exclusion. The chain of events at Balle and Nainhi constitutes only the tip of the iceberg of the caste-based discrimination prevalent across the country. Nepal has been declared a republic and ‘sons of common farmers’ occupy the two top posts of the land. But the changes at the top have yet to trickle down to the grassroots. Yes, it takes time to change entrenched habits. Yet it is hard to find a reasonable excuse for the government’s failure to punish those who fail to show even minimum humanity.