“15 years of the Declaration of Untouchability Free Nation: Dalits awaiting justice and equality!”
Kathmandu: Speaking a virtual program organized by the Federation of Dalit Non-Governmental Organizations and its member organizations in the context of the National Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Untouchability, Chairman of the National Assembly Ganesh Prasad Timilsena has said that concrete policies, programs and budget are needed for the implementation of the Untouchability Free Nation Declaration that is declared by the Parliament.
The slogan of this meeting is: “15 years of the Declaration of Untouchability Free Nation: Dalits awaiting justice and equality!”
Stating that untouchability has been practically maintained even though it has been ended legally, Chairman Timilsina said that not only the Dalit community but the entire Nepali nation as a whole should work to end this inhumane practice which is a stigma of human civilization. Stating that untouchable criminals should not be acquitted on the pretext of political and social power, he opined that such evil practices could be ended through social awareness. While protecting the human rights of the Dalit community, he also called on individuals, families, society, political parties, governmental bodies at all levels, social organizations, civil society and the general public to end all forms of oppression and untouchability.
Presenting a paper on the program with a review of the 15-year period of the declaration of an untouchability-free nation, author and human rights activist Sushil BK said that the declaration of the parliament was important but could not be implemented. Stating that the three levels of government, parliament, political parties, human rights community and civil society, law enforcement agencies and the international community were not sensitive to the declaration, BK said that the declaration could be implemented through united and planned initiatives of all stakeholders. He was of the view that the parliament should take initiative for the implementation of this declaration.
Similarly, Minister of State for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Bimala BK said that no political party was sensitive on the issue of ending untouchability. Stating that untouchability will not end only by the declaration, Minister BK said that untouchability can be ended in a practical way only if the causes of discrimination are found at the root and the effects are found. Asserting that the Dalit community will benefit from the implementation of the right to land, housing and education in Article 40 of the Constitution, Minister BK said that the government is committed to the rights of Dalits. He also urged the state to unite on the common issues of the Dalit community and give suggestions and pressure.
Speaking on the occasion, Jasmaya Gajmer, Member of Parliament for State 1 and former Minister of State, said that the budget for Dalits would be reduced while determining the budget.
Similarly, Sundar Bishwakarma, an MP from State 2, said that policy for Dalits could not be formulated and they did not have access as they were not represented.
Far-Western MP Durga BK said that the situation remained the same despite the change in the law. Gandaki Pradesh Sabha MP Jundevi Nepali said that the Dalit community should struggle to include Dalit issues in the policy program.
Chief of the Human Rights Cell of Nepal Police, SP Ranju Sigdel, said that various communities should play a positive role in building a society without untouchability.
Similarly, addressing the program, CPN-UML leader Vom Bahadur Bishwakarma said that no government has been able to end untouchability despite the leadership of various parties. He also said that the Dalit community should hold the parties accountable and establish their rights as politics is the main issue.
Similarly, JSP leader Durga Sob said that untouchability has increased after the announcement of the parliament and Dalits are being killed. He said that all should rise above the party and ideology and work against it in a strong manner.
Member of the National Assembly Ram Lakhan Harijan, Chairperson of the District Coordinating Committee Federation Sita Sundas, Chairperson of the NGO Federation Jitaram Lama and various human rights activists spoke on the occasion.
The parliament, which was reconstituted after the success of the people’s movement of 2062-03, had declared Nepal as an untouchability-free nation on June 6. Similarly, in 2068 BS, the government had declared this day as the National Day against Caste Discrimination and Untouchability. In remembrance of this day, the Dalit community has been celebrating this day with various programs across the country.
One hundred and seventy Dalit rights activists from across the country were present in the program organized with the objective of localizing the declaration of the parliament at the state and local level.
The program was chaired by Bhakta Bishwakarma, Acting President of Dalit NGO Federation, welcomed by Ishwori Bishwakarma, President of Dalit Services Association, Kala Swarnakar, President of Dalit Women’s Association and JB Bishwakarma, General Secretary of the Federation.