Lockdown in Nepal: Atrocities against minorities, Dalits surge

Two Nepali men were found dead on the banks of a river in Nepal on Sunday after locals found out that one of them was about to tie the knot with a girl from a different caste. 
The groom-to-be, Navaraj BK Jajarkot was celebrating his wedding party on Saturday when locals from the Chaurjahari Municipality in Rukum-West chased everyone away.
A day later, BK and his friend Tikaram Sunar, both of them Dalits, were found dead on the banks of the Bheri River.
The Covid-19 pandemic, with its social distancing norms, is already reifying age-old discriminatory practices against the so-called ‘lower’ castes, especially Dalits, long considered as “untouchable”.
Human rights activists said BK and Sunar’s murder shows how deep-rooted caste-based discrimination is in Nepal. “Several other discrimination related cases have been reported around the country during the lockdown,” they said.
One of the cases involves Krishna Bahadur Thapa, a member of the Gandaki Provincial Assembly. Thapa recently supported a group of people who were arrested on the charge of caste-based discrimination for denying a Dalit family entry into a public building to perform the last rites of a man.
Many ruling party leaders and rights activists have demanded Thapa’s resignation and his apology for supporting caste discrimination.
However, in his statement, Thapa said that the arrest order was issued to disturb social harmony.
Thapa, who is also Nepal Communist Party’s Kaski district committee chief, has been ignoring demands for his resignation, and his party has remained silent on the issue.
Following the spate of cases related to caste-based discrimination, Parliament’s Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee on Monday directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to investigate all the incidents of discrimination, rape and murder during the lockdown.
“Serious attention of the committee has been drawn to incidents of caste-based discrimination, untouchability, rape and murder during the lockdown,” said the committee.
Pointing out specific incidents, including the gang rape of Dalit girls in Dhankuta and Morang, caste-based discrimination in Kapilvastu and Kaski, murder and enforced disappearance in Rukum West, and forced abortion in Panchthar, the parliamentary committee has told the government to take necessary action against culprits immediately.
“With at least a dozen cases of caste-based discriminations and human rights violations meted out on Dalit communities ever since the country imposed a lockdown, the government has not developed any mechanism to address the woes of people in the lowest strata of the society,” activists say.

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