KATHMANDU: Lawmakers and other stakeholders have outlined the need for a grand campaign is essential to end the existing caste-based discrimination rampant in the country even by amending the existing legal provisions.
Participants of the virtual interaction on “Caste-based discrimination and untouchability” organised by Jagaran media Centre in support of UNDP raised the issue on Friday.
Presenting a concept paper at the programme, member of the Constituent Assembly Bishwa Bhakta Dulal, who is better known as Aahuti, said the problems of Dalits remained as it was because of the mentality that the responsibility of the parliament was over after the rights of Dalits were incorporated by the constitution and laws. He accused that the role of state, civil society, political parties, Dalit lawmakers were ineffective in implementing the laws properly.
“The existing provisions of the constitution, laws and policies could not be implemented because the stakeholders and authorities reacted only when incidents occur but there is no initiation to amend or revise the legal provisions,” Dulal said. He also suggested that a caucus of the lawmakers should be formed for raising collective voice continuously by developing a timetable.
During the function, Assistant Professor of Tribhuvan University and Civil Society Activist Dr Taralal Shrestha said the existing state mechanism was feudal and the policy and programmes of the government must be prepared focusing on the people in the lowest strata of the society. He stressed on the need to fight in a strategic manner.
While Krishna Bhakta Pokharel, chairman of Parliamentary Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee, opined that there has been discrimination and violence on the basis of caste due to the erroneous social values. “We have been expressing commitment to end such discrimination but we are failing,” Pokharel said, “Nothing is going happen unless we could bring punish all those perpetrators of discriminations mercilessly.”
Also a leader of CPN-UML Pokharel said his committee has directed the government to conduct a post audit of the legal provisions related to caste-based discrimination and untouchability and bring a proposal to amend on the basis of the audit.
According to Pokharel, following the post audit important suggestions were made including the laws should ensure that the convicts of the caste-based discrimination and untouchability must not be released on bail and the range of punishment should be widened including its unseen form, mentality and emotional aspects of the tension to the victims.
Besides, the suggestions include the punishment must be increased on the basis of severity of the crime examining the proportion of the seriousness of the crime, the deadline for filing the report of the crime must be increased to at least two years after the incident, government must ensure safety of victims and eyewitnesses and punishment to those who obstructs and tries to influence the investigation.
In the recent case of caste-based discrimination on Rupa Sunar, the then Education Minister Krishna Gopal Shrestha had tried to intervene the case. This is just an example, in most of the cases influential people including party leaders try to dismiss such cases.
Another chair of the parliamentary committee on State’s Directive Principles, Policy and Duties Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation, Nira Devi Jairu complained that the state mechanism don’t want to listen the woes of the Dalit community. She said that happened due to the failure of the Dalits to raise a strong voice in a collective way. Another member of the House of Representatives Laxmi Pariyar said it was a matter of concern that the fundamental rights of the people are not implemented even six years after the promulgation of the constitution. “Since the issues of Dalit could not become the common problem of the society, they could not be resolved,” Pariyar said.
Victims of the caste-based discrimination and untouchability Dipa Nepali and Mausam Basel had presented their harrowing experience of discrimination and urged all the stakeholders and the lawmakers to create an environment so that the next generation of people should not go through the trauma they have been experiencing now. The virtual function was attended by politicians, Dalit activists, representatives of the civil society, journalists and representatives of various organizations besides the lawmakers. Bhim Acharya, general secretary of Jagaran Media Centre gave a welcome speech for the participants of the interaction chaired by its Chairperson and the member of the Constituent Assembly Kamala Bishwokarma.