Kathmandu: At that time, he was a 13 and 14 year old youngest school student. One day when he went to the house of a Brahmin in the village, he suddenly came to sit on the bed. The father, who was sitting on the floor, slapped him, saying, “Go to the house of a big caste man and stay in bed.” He got up and came home. Even at home, my father did not stop reminding me.
At the time, he was a 13- and 14-year-old Allare School student. One day when he went to the house of a Brahmin in the village, he suddenly came to sit on the bed. The father, who was sitting on the floor, slapped him, saying, “Go to the house of a big caste man and stay in bed.” He got up and came home. Even at home, my father did not stop reminding me.
For the first time, Raksha Ram Chamar was deeply moved by the fact that he belonged to a small caste. “Even before that, we knew we were a small caste. But it was not so deeply ‘felt’, he says. It is true that every child born naked in the same village should be made aware of the caste system by the family and the society.
In the same village, children or adults of the so-called upper caste who used to play together, they used to enter the houses of shepherds. Chamar’s parents, who were sitting on the bed, would come down to the floor. Those who came sat on the bed. But Raksha Ram never saw his parents sitting on a bed in a big caste house. He himself had to eat khapki once while sitting on the bed of a big caste.
The feeling of discrimination that started in this way increased with his age. Step by step he saw and experienced discrimination. Gradually, his consciousness against discrimination began to grow. Initially, he was involved in the campaign against caste discrimination at the village and later at the district level. From his own level, he started making every effort to end caste discrimination. Finally, three years ago, he realized, ‘Good laws are needed to build a just society.’ He came to Kathmandu, became a law student and made his way to the legal battle. In honor of her struggling life and dedication to social justice, the Sarita Pariyar Foundation and the Jagran Media Center jointly organized the event. The International Darnal Award for Social Justice was established in the name of Subhash Darnal.
Raksha Ram was born 28 years ago in the small karma of Kapil Vastu. He grew up there. Sano Karma is a small village with a majority of 35 and 40 households. The dalits of that village are all landless. All the land in their village belongs to the occupants. The children had to go to a school in another village a kilometer away to study. When he was admitted to class 1, he had 15 and 20 students. But others left in the middle. At the time of giving SLC, the two remaining villagers, Raksha Ram and his uncle. Uncle could not pass SLC, he went to Mumbai. Raksha Ram became the first in the village to complete his schooling.
He completed his schooling in 2060 BS and wanted to study IED. I had to pay five hundred rupees for that. Her family could not afford it. He was sent to India, let’s read. Why? He says, ‘It used to be very cheap in India.’ Later, he passed BA from Kapilvastu Campus. MA thesis remains. Now his focus is on the law. He is studying LLB.
The first success
Mahalaxmi Primary School was established in the village in 2064 BS. He became the founding headmaster, but volunteered. Being a volunteer at school, I had to find other jobs to cover my expenses. At the same time, an organization called Reflect Nepal appointed him as a facilitator. His job was to teach school in the afternoon and to gather the villagers in the morning and evening to discuss local problems and facilitate their solution. One day in the village meeting, the issue of wages was raised. The people of the whole village worked on other people’s land. The wage was 80 rupees a day. During the same discussion, he came to know that the District Development Committee had fixed a salary of Rs. 150.
The village assembly decided to go to understand the rate of DDC. They went to the district. Not to mention that the DDC has fixed a salary of Rs 150. They discussed with the landlords and decided to get a salary of Rs. 150 only. Everyone was called for discussion. But the landowners did not come. Tried again For the second time, landlords also participated in the discussion. “Until then, the villagers were afraid to even talk to the landlords,” says Raksharam. Later, the villagers told us not to work for less than 120 rupees. ‘
Work on the farm was stopped for a week. The landlords agreed to pay 120 rupees a week later. “It was the first time in my life that I was successful in a collective campaign,” he recalls. But that time was no less stressful, for him. Many threats came from the landlords. He was accused of inciting the villagers and threatened to break his limbs. Even in the midst of stress, the success he achieved not only encouraged him to move forward, but also boosted his self-confidence in the village.
Under his leadership, a school building was built, a relief teacher quota was introduced, and Dalit cooperatives were opened. But he left school around 068. There is a story of bed in this too. He went to the school chairman’s house to talk about the school. But things don’t work out. The chairman did not agree. The chairman did not even sit down, he kept talking while talking. “I finally realized that I was sitting on the bed, it was embarrassing for him to sit on the bed I was sitting in, and it was not agreed that I was not a Dalit,” says Raksha Ram. “After that incident, I decided to leave school and start a full-time social justice campaign.” And then he joined the Madhes Human Rights Home. He worked in the field of human rights in Madhes, especially on the issue of minorities and marginalized.
It is the year 2070. Raksha Ram had come to Kathmandu to participate in a program as a human rights defender from Madhes. That was the meeting between Dipendra Jha, a lawyer and a member of the Terai Human Rights Defenders Network. “After listening to Dipendra Sir, I decided to stay in Kathmandu and study law,” he says.
In particular, Dipendra, seeing Raksha Ram’s work and enthusiasm in the field of social justice and human rights, said, “If you want to work in this field, you have to know the law.” He was touched by this saying, “If a good law is made, it is a matter of implementation.” He decided to live in the capital, study law and work in the field of law.
The network also offered her the opportunity to work as a legal assistant. He is studying LLB. After joining the network, he started advising CA members on Madhesi and Dalit issues in the constitution-drafting process after the second Constituent Assembly election. He was directly involved in the submission of written suggestions from the reports of the thematic committees and sub-committees to the drafting of the constitution.
But Raksha Ram has not stopped there. The constitution had not been drafted for a long time due to a dispute over federalism. But the earthquake brought all the parties together. Nepali Congress, UML, UCPN (M) and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Democratic) reached a 16-point agreement on June 9, 2008. But Raksha Ram did not find the agreement to issue a constitution without a blueprint for federalism justified. He, along with activists Vijay Kant Karna and Rita Sah, filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court saying the agreement was unconstitutional. An interim order issued by Judge Girish Chandra Lal in the writ petition is believed to have ensured federalism.
Although Raksha Ram’s case is being discussed nationally, he has raised a dozen other issues besides this. These issues are mostly related to human rights and social justice. The constitution provides for reservation in government jobs. However, the Public Service Commission had in one advertisement failed to meet the reserved quota for some reason and the next time it was merged openly. Against that, Raksha Ram knocked on the door of the Supreme Court. Due to the directive order in that case, the Public Service Commission has not met the quota even twice
Adjustments are made.
He has gone to court on issues ranging from non-inclusive ambassador selection to discrimination in citizenship. “I feel that this work has helped in the implementation of the law,” he said.
He reiterated, “We have to pay attention to the law. There is a law and we have gone to the court to implement it. If there is no law, where can we go?” He is also a Madhesi Dalit. In terms of education and consciousness, Madhesi Dalits are lagging behind the hill dalits. These enthusiastic youths still want to be an example and say, “I want to form a group of Madhesi Dalits who know and understand the law.”
Darnal Award for Social Justice Sarita Pariyar Trust and Jagran Media Center have jointly established in the name of Subhash Darnal. The amount of this award is five lakh rupees. This award is given every year to individuals, organizations or movements fighting for social justice and dalit empowerment.
Subhash, a young human rights activist, died in an accident in the United States in 2011. Under his leadership, the Jagran Media Center was established in 2000 with the objective of bringing Dalit issues to the attention of the media. He was also one of the founders of the Samata Foundation, which conducts scholarly work on dalits. He joined the people’s movement of 2062 BS and 1963 BS under the leadership of Common Campaign for Peace (COCAP).
For his work on democracy and inclusion, he has received the London School of Economics, the Dropper Hisl Summer Fellowship at Stanford University, and the Reagan-Facile Democracy Fellowship from the National Endowment for Democracy.