‘They Like Our Music, Not Us’: Nepali Dalits Unite to Fight Prejudice

Khukuri has historically been the symbol of Gorkha valour and pride. Now, the makers of the machete-like knife with an inwardly-curved blade seek pride for themselves.

Ambedkar on the lips, Nepali Dalits of the Indian subcontinent have joined forces to launch their first ever united, cross-border fight against prejudice and to work towards building pride in their caste heritage.

On March 3, over 50 members of the Kami, Damai and Sarki castes from Nepal and India came together in Siliguri, a trade town in sub-Himalayan West Bengal, and shared with each other stories of oppression, discrimination and everyday casteism. The day-long conference ended with the formation of the tentatively-named International Kami, Damai and Sarki Cultural Heritage Forum. (While Bhutani representatives could not attend the meet, the purview of the forum also includes the Nepali-speaking Bhutanese, the Lhotsampas, who are largely Hindus.)

“This forum will work towards safeguarding the rights of the Nepali Dalits of these three countries, where caste discrimination is a major issue,” said Jitu Gautam of Nepal who chaired the meeting. “We will try to ensure our Dalits have access to rights guaranteed by the constitution of respective countries. We will jointly press upon our governments for action.”

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