Leaders tell rally organised by Manusher Jonno Foundation, Bangladesh Harijan Oikya Parishad, Bangladesh Dalit Parishad
Discrimination against so called “lower caste Dalit Harijans” is a violation of the country’s constitution and it deprives the community of economic and social development, said Dalit leaders at a rally in the capital yesterday.
They demanded immediate passage of the proposed “discrimination elimination act” to end the deprivation faced by caste-based communities regarding access to mainstream social, economic and educational development.
“According to the constitution, there is no scope for discrimination against any community in the country but still there are incidences of discrimination,” said Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Speaker of Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad.
The law will help end such discrimination but meanwhile Dalit and Harijan communities must be advanced with affirmative reservation and enhanced inclusion and access to various social safety net programmes of the government, she said.
Bangladesh has to put an end to discrimination against any community if it wants to achieve the middle income goal and meet the UN’s sustainable development goals, she said.
Manusher Jonno Foundation, which works for human rights and good governance, along with Bangladesh Harijan Oikya Parishad (BHOP) and Bangladesh Dalit Parishad organised the rally and a discussion at the BMA auditorium on Global Dignity Day.
BHOP Secretary General Nirmal Chandra Das said Dalits and Harijans were still socially considered untouchables and denied human dignity, virtually excluding them from development and social rights.
“Discrimination has still been going on despite a prime ministerial instruction for their enhanced inclusion,” he said, adding that they were subjected to live a life of indignity.
Citing that there are nearly one crore Dalit people of different “low caste” communities in the country of which 15 lakh are Harijans, he demanded for their equal and quota-based access to employment, reserved representation in parliament and local government bodies, and a national Dalit commission.
There is discrimination against not only Dalits but also other marginalised communities like physically challenged persons and sex workers, said Manusher Jonno Foundation Executive Director Shaheen Anam.
But the extent of such discrimination is decreasing gradually with the sanitisation of policymakers, she said.
JL Bhowmik, president of Dhaka Mohanagar Sarbajanin Puja Udjapan Committee, spoke while BHOP Chairperson Krishna Lal chaired the discussion.