Five years ago on 17 July, the government declared all Kamaiyas free. Thirty thousand bonded labourers of five districts in the west were granted freedom. This abolishment of the Kamaiya tradition was one of the most important decisions made by the democratic government.
The Kamaiya revolution is still active today as a peaceful movement. Ever since, the free Kamaiyas have been demanding their right to earn a livelihood, and on the occasion of five years of freedom, they took out a protest march and sent the government a plough as a gift. Their meaning was clear?but still the government remains blind to the problems these Kamaiyas face even today, five years after having gained freedom.
Before they were declared free, Kamaiyas were indebted from birth, their rights to education and freedom curtailed. After the 1990 Constitution guaranteed their organisational and individual freedoms, it also granted thousands of young people freedom from slavery. After repeated requests for support to the local district administrations of Bardiya, Banke, Kailali, Kanchanpur and Dang were ignored, representatives of the Kamaiya revolution showed up outside Singha Darbar to stage a protest. This support group was able to explain their problems to the democratic government and forced the government to grant them complete freedom. Their strategy was to first gain freedom from slavery and then to fight for their rights.
After gaining freedom, many started their own businesses, some became a part of organised farming, their children went to school, and due to freedom and unification, their self-confidence also increased. But there are still thousands who remain clueless and unable to adapt to their new free lives. It is necessary for them to understand that freedom is most important. In spite of the internal conflict between leaders of the Kamaiya movement, they continue to work for the unification of the organisation. Even today, like five years ago, they have to be able to implement the support they receive from NGOs, society and media. It will then be impossible for the government to ignore their pleas.