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Nepalese Landless People Protesting for Land Rights



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Nepalese landless women in Kathmandu. Photos: Smita

Kathmandu, November 26, 2008- “The government has been deluding us with sweet words on our rights just like deluding children with chocolates,” said Dukhi Ram, 68, landless man – Haliya/Mohi from Saptari. Dukhi Ram who spent most of his life working for Jamindar (landlord) in his hometown Saptari is in Kathmandu for a sit-in protest.

The sit-in protest is organized by the National Land Rights Forum (NLRF) since November 17.

“We don’t have our own land so from my childhood I had to work as a Haliya for Jamindar where I experienced the worst treatment from the Jamindar family. Now, my children are surviving as wage labour,” he complained.

“Shouldn’t those who labor get to eat?” he asked.

“We are neither traitors nor terrorists. We are as equally human and citizens of this country as others so our human rights should also be guaranteed by the Government,” he declared.

As this government is the government of the people unlike previous feudal governments, Dukhi Ram says, he is hopeful that this time the government will not only address the problems but also implement the solutions.

Along with Dukhi Ram there are 144 landless people from 33 districts staging an indefinite sit-in protest at Khula Manch, Kathmandu as the third phase of its protest launched by NLRF to pressure the government to meet its four-point demand.
 

Nepalese landless people in Kathmandu. Photos: Smita

The landless have been calling for the formation of a High-level Land Reform Council. According to them, the landless, including Kamaiyas, Haliyas, Haruwa/Charuwa, freed Kamaiyas, Chure victims, Guthi victims and Ukhada, shall comprise one-third of the council’s strength.

They have also been calling for annulment of all land-related laws that favour landlordship and demanding the introduction of new acts that favour the landless. The landless maintain that 20 per cent of the budget meant for Village Development Committees shall go for land reform.



During their programme, until now, major political parties and 25 Constituent Assembly members have expressed solidarity with the demands of the landless and urged them to stage protests to draw the attention of the government.

The landless, tenants, Kamaiyas, Haliyas, Mohi, Haruwa-Charuwa and people who are the victims of Chure and Guthi land systems as well as those living in village blocks who are struggling for their land rights since 1949, have been deprived of their land rights.


Nepalese landless men in Kathmandu. Photos: Smita

Shanta Chaudhari, Vice-President of NLRF said that the talks held with the Home Minister Bamdev Gautam on Sunday were inconclusive as they could not come to an agreement on some of their demands.

“Home Minister Gautam said the government will call for dialogue after Prime Minister Pushpa kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ finishes his National Cadres’ Conference so that they can address our demands,” informed Chaudhari.



Chaudhari, who is also the Constituent Assembly member, warned that if their demands are not met they will bring 1000 landless people to stage a sit-in protest.
“We have been staging a peaceful protest but if the government turns a deaf ear to our demands then we might have to think of alternative ways of protest,” Chaudhari stated.

They have said that they will continue the sit-in protest until their demands are fulfilled.

-Smita Magar in Kathmandu
   
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