WE are appalled by the level of discrimination that 5.5 million Dalits in the country have been subjected to. We laud Bangladesh Harijan Oikya Parishad, Friends Association for Integrated Revolution and Manusher Jonno Foundation for conducting a survey on one of the most marginalised communities among us. But for the report a dark aspect of our society would have remained unknown to us. It is beyond belief that in such a day and age, a segment of our society should be living in such a decrepit state.
It is preposterous that Dalit children are not allowed to enrol in most of the schools; in the others, they are subject to bullying by teachers and fellow students for their parents' profession. It is even worse at the tertiary level where only 25 Dalit students were admitted last year. It is no less than shocking that in these times, the Dalits are not allowed to have food with the others.
The unjust and prejudicial treatment of the Dalits stands in clear violation of the country's constitution, which categorically prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender or ethnicity. Despite this, the crimes committed against the Dalits seem to be going on unabated. This demands a string of affirmative actions for all-round progress of this and other marginalised groups. To do that, we must concentrate on capacity building and strict enforcement of the quota system for Dalits in educational institutions where members of the community live. A mass awareness campaign against such practice is also in order.