Budgetary funds for Dalits demanded
Speakers at a seminar yesterday demanded budgetary allocation for the development of the Dalit community members.
The allocation should not come out of pity or sympathy but to ensure the rights of the discriminated community of 5.5 million people, they said.
Bangladesh Dalit and Excluded Rights Movement (BDERM) and Nagorik Uddyog jointly organised the seminar, “Regarding the Development of Dalit and Excluded Communities - What needs to be done in the upcoming budget”, at Dhaka Reporters Unity.
Presenting a keynote, Nagorik Uddyog Project Convenor Abul Bashar painted a grave picture of the discrimination and exclusion faced by the Dalit community.
Literacy rate among them is only five percent and enrolment in primary schools is 10 percent, 95 percent of whom drop out before reaching secondary school, said Bashar.
They are excluded from nearly all facilities available to citizens and there are no anti-discrimination laws to help them fight for their rights in court, he added.
Some Dalits cited the hardships they face everyday, ranging from men and women forced to take baths in the same bathroom to unliveable infrastructure which causes excreta from the upper floors to drop inside living quarters downstairs.
“What they want is so little…they only want some respect from society,” said Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal central committee member Rajekuzzaman Ratan.
There are no beggars in the Dalit community. They have the respect and self-dignity to earn their living, he added.
“They are a big part of the wheel that drives the economy forward. And yet they do not have any mention in the national budget,” said Ratan.
Workers' Party of Bangladesh President Rashed Khan Menon suggested Dalits to specifically provide the finance minister or the finance secretary with ways to incorporate the community in the next budget.
Addressing as the chief guest, he also reminded the Dalits that they need to raise a movement to build unity and leadership among themselves.
Communist Party of Bangladesh central leader Ruhin Hossain Prince and Nagorik Uddyog Chief Executive Jakir Hossain spoke at the programme with BDERM President Mukul Sikder in the chair.