RUPANDEHI, April 23: A Dalit family in Rupandehi district has returned the money offered by non-Dalit guests who came to their daughter's wedding but refused to participate in the feast.
This case is an example how caste-based discrimination and untouchability is still widely prevalent in the rural parts of the country. Interestingly, the local representatives and government officials who have been entrusted with the responsibility of eliminating such ill practices themselves were found encouraging it by "boycotting" the feast.
Ram Bahadur BK of Suddhodhan Rural Municipality-4, had invited some non-Dalit members including the local representatives and political leaders to his 22-year-old daughter Arati's wedding ceremony. On April 18, Arati got married to Ramesh Rasaili of Sunwal. Even though the guests attended the celebration, they refused to have the meal, which disheartened the hosts.
The irked family members on Sunday returned the money offered to the bride as blessing by the 22 non-Dalit guests. They handed over the money to Rajendra Kandel, chief of Suddhodhan-4.
"As we believe in living in harmony with all our neighbors, we had hired non-Dalit cooks for the non-Dalit members but still the so-called leaders of the society refused to participate in the feast," said Ram Bahadur, adding, "That's an insult to us. So, we returned their money."Hom Bahadur BK, the bride's uncle informed Republica that Rs 6,350 collected from 22 non-Dalit guests was returned to them through the ward chief. "We were never invited to their weddings but still we invited them hoping it will strengthen our relationship but they declined our offer," said BK. "Are we not humans?" he questioned.
Those who refused to participate in the feast include Keshav Adhikari, regional member of Nepali Congress (NC), Rupandehi; Rasmaya Thapa, chairperson of local Aama Samuha; Balkrishna Gaire, vice-chairperson of community development committee; and others like Ashish KC, DR Kandel, Gokul Subedi, Krishna Prasad Bhandari, Gita Khanal, Chitra Bahadur KC, Indira Dotel among others.
As all 22 members left the wedding together, Ward Chief Kandel stated that it could be suspected as discrimination. "I also attended the wedding. The bride's family members have returned the money offered to the bride along with an application. This is a serious issue, so we will soon hold a discussion between the two sides," assured Ward Chief Kandel.
Padam Bishwakarma, former vice-chairperson of the Dalitbarga Utthan District Coordination Committee, expressed his dissatisfaction over the non-Dalit guests who boycotted the feast, saying this has added insult to the injury of Dalits. He demanded stern action against those who boycott the weddings of their Dalit neighbors even when invited.
According to activists Rem Bishwakarma, especially the so-called civilized and educated people are promoting caste-based discrimination in the modern society. Pawan Bhatta, chief of the National Human Rights Commission office in Province 5 stressed the need for investigating the matter and take stern action against the 22 persons if they really had the ill intention of discriminating against the Dalit family.
Meanwhile, a nine-member probe committee has been formed under the coordination of Dalit leader Hariom Bishwakarma to investigate the issue. Coordinator Hariom stated that the committee would pressurize political parties, local government, and police administration among others to take stern action against the 22 guests if they are found guilty.