Responding to media reports on a Dalit family in Siraha being barred from using a water well, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development has sought clarification from the Office of Siraha Development Committee.
Despite continuous campaigns aimed at ending such inhumane practices, the ministry is concerned about the local administration after reports of caste-based discrimination surfaced at the local level. Local authorities have been asked to clarify reasons behind the failure in checking such practices despite conducting various programmes at VDCs, Municipalities and Ward Citizen Forum.
“Why have the VDCs, Ward Citizens Forum, Citizen Awareness Center, social mobilisers and service providers not been able to play an active role to stop such activities,” the ministry’s joint-spokesperson Rashmi Raj Pandey had asked Siraha DDC, asking to clarify the reason behind the failure in controlling caste-based discriminations at local level.
In a recent incident, the so-called upper caste people in the village had suddenly prohibited Dom’s family of Dhangadhi-3, Siraha, from using the well. The family of 65-year-old Pulakit Mallik Dom had been barred from using the well by the villagers on account of them being “untouchable” class. Earlier, the family were made to pay money for drawing water from the well constructed by a local, Ramutar Mahato.
People from the so-called upper caste had violently retaliated after locals from the Dom Community had complained about the incident and media persons, along with actor Rajesh Hamal, reached the village to take note of the situation.
Siraha police, then, had helped the Dalit family in gaining access to the water well. A team led by Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Uma Chaturbedi on Wednesday visited the neighbourhood and allowed the Dom family to use the community well in front of other villagers. The Dom family has been living in the village since 1950. They never had a problem using the well until Saturday, when Hamal was on a visit to the village to attend a programme.
Rights groups clamour for legal remedy to Dom family
Various human rights organisations have demanded legal action against the persons who were involved in the recent incident of racial discrimination against a Dalit family at Nayanpur village in Dhangadi VDC-3 of Siraha district.
They have issued a joint statement demanding the local administration of Siraha to punish the guilty villagers who had barred the family of Pramila Devi Mallik Dom from drawing water from a village well.
The Dom family was discriminated on account of them belonging to “untouchable” class.
The rights groups have accused the so-called upper caste villagers of racism. Chief District Officer (CDO) of Siraha Man Bahadur Bishwokarma has assured to bring the guilty to justice. Bishwokarma had visited the Dom family to enquire about the incident on Thursday.
Pramila told Bishwokarma that the villagers threatened her family after police visited the village to settle the dispute. A police team and government officials had visited the village on Wednesday and instructed the Dom family to use the well without any hesitation. Deputy Superintendent of Police Uma Chaturbedi had also vowed to offer protection to the Dom family by stationing a police team in the village. After the Dom family drew water from the well in presence of police, the villagers have stopped using the well in a show of spite.
When CDO Bishwokarma visited the village and interacted with the locals, he was told by Yogilal Sah, the former VDC chairman, that the it was the village elderlies who have stopped using the well. Sah also warned that there could be a problem if the villagers are forced to use the same well with the Dom family.