Eradicating caste-based discrimination still challenging in Nepal

Caste discrimination in Nepal

By Sushil Darnal

Kamal BK and Sangita Shahi of Rupandehi married last February as per their choice.

They had been in love for long and hence decided to elope.

As the marriage is taken as a social institution and a gathering of members of the families of both sides and relatives are expected to be there to witness and enjoy a wedding ceremony.

But in case of a love marriage, such condition may not take place. In case of an-inter-caste marriage in the ‘caste-based’ society, the decision may end in a hard battle.

Sangita and Kamal are now in the central capital in search of physical protection and justice after the couple received a ‘death threat’ from Sangita’s family.

But the issue is yet to be addressed.

“We have filed a complaint in all bodies concerned, but have received no response from anywhere. We are threatened to be killed,” shared Kamal.

Another inter-caste couple Ganesh Kumar Chadara and Jyoti Shah of Jajarkot has been staying in the district headquarters Khalanga as they have no situation to stay in their home as the society has yet to accept their inter-caste marriage.

These two couples are representative examples of those many inter-caste pairs who are struggling to safe life and settle in the society without hurdles created by the family and society indiscriminately. Kamal and Ganesh Kumar represent the Dalit community.

The Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability (offence and punishment) Act has been in force since 2011. But the discrimination continues to take place.

The Dalit community which is economically, socially and politically pushed backward continues to suffer the caste-based discriminations and untouchability.

Many Dalit youths have been killed for touching kitchen and for inter-caste marriage in lack of effective implementation of the Act.

The incidents of thrashing members of the Dalit community and their displacement have showed that untouchability has been found increasing in the country.

Sete Damai and Manbire Sunar, among others had to lose their lives due to untouchability even after implementation of the Act.

The Act has the provision that one has to face up to three years of imprisonment or Rs 1,000 to 25,000 fine or both if he/she discriminates to a person on the basis of caste.

A study carried out by Samata Foundation shows that even the police administration dillydallies to register complaints related to caste discrimination rather than taking action against the perpetrators.

Foundation chair Pradeep Pariyar said that mostly the victims are forced for reconciliation even if cases are registered and police administration is found taking the side of perpetrators.

According to Samari Utthan Sewa, 16 people lost their lives on the basis of caste discrimination after the implementation of act.

Although different political parties in their election manifesto have committed to end the practice of untouchability, some political leaders are also found involved in caste discrimination cases.

Lawmaker Min Bishwokarma said that the incidents of caste-discrimination are rising due to the lax punishment provision in the act.