Dalits push for enactment of law against discrimination

Staff Correspondent

Members of Dalits community, once known as ‘the untouchables’, on Monday urged the government to enact the proposed anti-discrimination law to ensure their rights.
They alleged that the ministry of law was holding back the draft for one and a half years.
Dalits representatives and rights groups raised the demand in a report launching ceremony on access to water, sanitation and education of Dalits, organised by Nagarik Udyog and Bangladesh Dalits and Excluded Rights Movement in the capital.
The research report said that the ongoing discrimination had taken a toll on more than 65 lakh Dalits in Bangladesh. Due to their profession and identity, they are not able to get jobs as per their education and are deprived of access to water, sanitation and housing service from government.
The report presenter, Afsana Binte Amin, said that only seven public universities had quota for Dalits, which was not adequate as the report said that only 1.9 per cent took higher education and 44.9 per cent even did not enrol in school.
The report said that the Dhaka Dalits colonies had acute crisis of water supply and sanitation provided by the government agencies as 84 people were using only one water source and 40 were using one toilet.
The report suggested that the government should enact the law to eliminate disparity with regard to land rights recognition, getting government jobs, allocation in national budget to improve the lives of Dalits and directions to the city corporations and municipalities to ensure their access to water and sanitation.
In the discussion session, Nagarik Udyog chief executive Zakir Hossain said that they came to know from the ministry level source that the government was procrastinating to enact the proposed law saying the constitution already had articles ensuring equal rights of all citizens irrespective of caste, colour and creed.
Bangladesh Dalits and Excluded Rights Movement vice chairperson Moni Rani Das said that members of the community were still struggling to be recognised as human beings and the law could help them.
Chaired by Nagarik Udyog chief executive Zakir Hossain, the programme was addressed by columnist Syed Abul Hossain, Communist Party of Bangladesh leader Ruhin Hossain Prince and Nagarik Sanghati general secretary Sharifuzzaman Sharif.

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