Collective efforts stressed to root out discriminations against downtrodden people

Two-day South Asian conference on Dalit begins

Staff Correspondent
South Asia Conference on ‘Towards a regional agenda on social inclusion and Dalit women’s concerns’ was held at CIRDAP international conference centre in Dhaka on Monday. — New Age photo

South Asia Conference on ‘Towards a regional agenda on social inclusion and Dalit women’s concerns’ was held at CIRDAP international conference centre in Dhaka on Monday. — New Age photo

Lawmakers and human rights campaigners on Monday called for taking collective efforts by all concerned to root out all sorts of discriminations against downtrodden (Dalit) people in the subcontinent.
They said that the Dalit people were facing multifaceted discriminations in Bangladesh, India and Nepal due to unchanged mindsets of upper class people, not for merely absence of legislation.
They made their remarks and observations while speaking at the inaugural session of the two-day South Asia conference on ‘Towards a Regional Agenda on Social Inclusion and Dalit Women’s Concerns’ that began in the city’s CIRDAP auditorium.
Nagarik Uddyog and Bangladesh Dalit and Excluded Rights Movement, Christian Aid-Bangladesh, Swadhikar-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, India and SAMATA Foundation of Nepal jointly organised the conference.
Lawmaker Israfil Alam said that law and regulations were not problems but the main problem is people’s mindset about Dalit people who were facing discriminations in food, health, education, shelter and employment.
He, however, said that the present government in Bangladesh has taken moves to ensure rights to the country’s Dalit people.
Israfil also said that Dalits were leaving their places everywhere in India and Bangladesh but the issue was not so exposed in India as it was in Bangladesh.
‘Let us work together to ensure rights to Dalit,’ he said.
Another lawmaker, Nujahan Begum, said that more than 210 millions of Dalit people have been facing discriminations in South Asia region.
Citing her party’s guideline, she said she would try her best to solve the problems faced by Dalit people in Bangladesh.
Chairman of SAMATA foundation of Nepal Padam Sundas said that as a Hindu country Nepal has been facing caste discriminations over the time.
In 1990, Nepalese people got a new law that gave them status of human being, he said.
NDMJ-Swadhikar general secretary VA Ramesh Nathan of India said that caste-based discriminations were deeply rooted in Indian society and it continued to increase as Dalit people started resisting against their discriminations.
The Dalit people find it hard to have access to justice, he said, adding that Dalit human rights were very critical issue in India.
He called for collective efforts among people from all strata to eradicate caste-based discriminations from the South Asian region.
Chief Executive Officer of Change Alliance in India Belinda Bennet said that it was a great progress that people like parliamentarians, human rights defenders and media people from South Asian regions have come up to show solidarity for ensuring rights to the Dalit people.
At the two-day international conference on Dalit, representatives from different professions from Bangladesh, India and Nepal were taking part.

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