SAPTARI, September 4: Anita Sada, 28, is not unaware of the local level elections taking place on 18 September. Sada lost her house to floods three weeks ago. Her husband had died a month before. For those who are living a miserable life, election makes no difference, she states. The local of Koiladi village of Saptari has only one concern; whether the government would offer resettlement for the people like her.
“A lot of sorrow has befallen on us. We are living in very miserable conditions. Flood did not spare anything,” she lamented. She added that the elections make no difference in the lives of the people like her.
Sada is a member of Musahar community. The marginalized community is always the hardest hit wherever it floods in Madhes. According to Sada, people from ‘richer communities’ do not happen to lose everything in floods like her community does. Even if they become homeless, they can still get shelter somewhere. However, Musahars do not have this privilege, she noted.
Someni Devi Sada, 70, of the same village is living an equally miserable life. Her husband died a decade ago. After flood washed away her small hut, she has nowhere to go now. “People say my sons are not looking after me. They put the blame on them. But what would they do. They are very poor, too,” she said. “I have no complaints. But I am worried that I have no house to live in now. My hut got washed away,” added the elderly woman.
Someni Devi is of the opinion that ‘miseries are simply fate of poor people’. She does not expect anything from government or leaders either. “We do not go and meet leaders. They say there is election, but that is not for us,” she remarked.
Somen Devi has no experience of voting. She does not have any citizenship. Few people in her community vote, she said.
Kamalu Sada, 5, had died in flood. His photo had become viral over social media after his family reported that his dead body could not be buried in lack of land, so left at Koshi River for that to be washed away. The family is still in trauma. “We could not follow his last rites. We did not have money for that,” the deceased’s father Fuden said. “May God spare even my enemies from such a sorrow,” he lamented.
There is no question of Kamalu being excited about elections. He said he refuses to keep updates about election activities. “I left the dead body of my child in Koshi. I am feeling strange since then. I do not like to meet any political leaders or cadres,” he said.
While flood had inundated almost entire Madhes, it was however learnt later that the boy’s dead body could not be buried also because he was ‘low caste’. People of ‘higher caste’ were not ready to provide land, his father said.
Entire Koiladi village had submerged in water when the floods hit Madhes three weeks ago. Many people have begun to come to normal routine. But the people of Musahar, Dum and other poor and marginalized community continue to face equal chaos. Amid disturbed lifestyle, these people have no time and mood to entertain election related activities. According to Fuden, poor people like him even do not have temporary shelters.
Fuden’s neighbor Lalaku lamented that organizations that offered some food have also disappeared. When the floods have freshly hit the Tarai, people had reached the victims with food packs. They come no more, he said. “They had come and distributed beaten rice and puffed rice to us. But soon, they stopped coming around. Those political leaders and officers are also seen nowhere,” he said. “We are going to die of starvation,” he added.
On the other hand, election campaign is going on in full swing in the Tarai now. The government had held the local level elections in all other parts in phase one and two except in province number three. The election is just two weeks away. Political parties have been offering feasts to attract voters. Colorful pamphlets, Ti-shirts, banners and so on have been giving a different feel. Leaders of political parties have been meeting people and giving assurances. Election fever seems to have gripped everyone. But this kind of ambiance is simply absent in the Dalit communities of Saptari.
“No sir. They do not come to us. Neither would we like to meet them,” stated Bihari Sada of Koiladi. “No matter who wins, nobody would ever bother about our life. They even do not care whether we are alive or dead. We have no house to live in. We are worried only about it,” he added.