Activist honoured for helping cause of landless DalitsSocial activist Saraswati Nepali of Baitadi district was honoured with Darnal Award for Social Justice 2018 amidst a programme in Kathmandu on Wednesday.
Social activist Saraswati Nepali of Baitadi district was honoured with Darnal Award for Social Justice 2018 amidst a programme in Kathmandu on Wednesday.
Sarita Darnal, mother of social justice leader Suvash Darnal who died in a fatal car accident in Washington DC in 2011, and Prisoners Assistance Nepal Founder Indira Rana Magar presented the award to Nepali honouring her exemplary contributions towards social justice for land rights, education, journalism and access to justice for Dalits. The award carries a purse of Rs500,000.
Nepali, the youngest among five-siblings, was born and brought up in Baitadi—one of the remotest districts in the Far-West—has been making important contributions in the field of human rights for Dalits and other marginalised communities said Sarita Pariyar Trust Fund and Jagaran Media Centre, which have been felicitating young Dalit leaders under 40 every two years on the death anniversary of Suvash Darnal.
“I had not expected winning this award. Neither had I walked the path of social justice thinking about it,” Nepali told the Post during a candid conversation. “This award has added responsibility and I am ready to take on this challenge.”
Nepali was at the headquarters of Nepal Communist Party when the big announcement was made on the second week of June. “I was overwhelmed. The news was there on social media, news portal and radio, flooding me with the feedback and best wishes,” said Nepali, who had contested in the local election representing the CPN vying for the position of deputy mayor of Dashrathchand Municipality in Baitadi. The recognition has washed-off the pain of not winning the election, added Nepali who fell short by just 300 votes.
Nepali had played an important role in getting land for landless Dalits as the coordinator of Land Rights Forum from 2008-2011. As many as 37 families each received two ropanis of land along with a land ownership certificate. Likewise, Baitadi district was announced as a bonded labour-free district in March 2007. “The government announced the abolishment of bonded labour in 2008,” Nepali recalled.
It was because of her persistent push for justice that a 54-year-old perpetrator, who had repeatedly raped and forced abortion on a 14-year-old mentally challenged Dalit girl in Dashrathchand Municipality, was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Nepali later announced that she would use the amount for the welfare of Dalit students.