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Dalits in Himachal's Sirmauri district, forming 30% of population, are "worst off"

By Our Representative
The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)-sponsored Samvidhan Samman Yatra, on reaching Nahaan, Sirmaur district, Himachal Pradesh, learned from members of Dalit Vikas Sangathan and Dalit Soshan Mukti Manch that caste and patriarchy are deeply embedded in Sirmauri society, with evils like child trafficking, bonded labour, caste violence and lack of political to tackle these issues rampant in the area.
Yatra participants, who began their journey on October 2 (Gandhi Jayanti) at Dandi and will end on December 10 (human rights day) in Delhi, were also told that at the root of the district’s woes lies economic reasons. They were told, 30% of the district population belongs to the Scheduled Caste and most of them are below poverty line with no access to land. The problem of "shamlaat" land being in the control of the powerful upper castes was also discussed.
Earlier, more than 20 organizations, movements and civil society groups of Himachal Pradesh came together to organise a state level convention, Constitutional Rights, and Resources: Struggles and Challenges in Himachal Pradesh, in Shimla, to welcome the yatra on December 4. Attended by more than 150 representatives, the convention was addressed by NAPM leaders and grassroots representatives.
Slogans like "Lok Sabha Na Vidhan Sabha Sabse Upar Gram Sabha" echoed in the Kalibari hall in Shimla, carrying the message of decentralized decision making and the need to strengthen the Gram Sabhas to ensure accountability in our political system.

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