It is estimated that about 50,000 Dalits in Surkhet District, Napel, who were victims of serious discrimination, have decided to leave the Hindu faith and embrace the message of Christianity.
According to a Friday report in AsiaNews, over 200 Dalits met in secret last week in the Surkhet district of western Nepal. They discussed the Hindu caste system in place making their lives nearly impossible and the displeasure of being part of a religion they do not believe.
The Dalits are Hindus who are basically “nobodies” and labeled “untouchables.” The discrimination they face daily have drawn them to embrace Jesus Christ. They are the lowest in India’s caste system and can get severely beaten for petty incidents.
The police will seldom intervene and complaints are ignored or never taken into account. Only one percent of individuals who commit crimes against Dalits are convicted.
“It is not only the question of the district of Surkhet, but it is symptomatic of the situation in the whole country,” said Dalit and former parliamentary activist Binod Pahadi. “There is a law against discrimination and for equality, but in practice there is a strong oppression of low caste people.”
One of the Dalits who met in secret last week, Lal Babu BK, said:
We have come together to convert to Christianity to save ourselves. We have all practiced Hindu faith for generations since it was mandatory, but today the country is secularized and Hindu faith cannot save us. Those who torment and who humiliate us are Hindus like us. By being named untouchables we are judged from the bottom down. We cannot even touch lower caste people, cannot enter their homes, we cannot touch public drinking water and cannot have access to public places. So what is this belief? Are we certain in this faith? We concluded “no” and decided to convert to Christianity.
“We are in danger everywhere,” Lal Babu added, “and we are discriminated at any time, so we ask for the grace of Jesus because we have seen that there is no discrimination in Christianity. We believe that Jesus can protect us.”
He added, “The decision is made even if we have not yet contacted the Christian priest who can baptize us, we will do it and we hope the priest will welcome us.”
It remains unclear whether the 50,000 Dalits are seeking a Catholic priest to become baptized. Church Militant reached out to AsiaNews, but as of publication, we have not received a response.
Dalit women and young girls are abused and neglected. If they’re able to survive to the age of 12, some are forced to be prostitutes for the temple priests.
Dalits must take different routes to work as they cannot be seen on several main roads. They are given undesirable jobs like cleaning sewers and toilets or burning the dead, or they’re ordered to do hard labor with little to no pay, if given a job at all. They are forced to live in unattended slums and cannot use the same drinking sources as the rest of society.
It is out of the norm for Dalit children to receive an education, and if they do, they are discriminated against. Only 10–37 percent of Dalits can read and write. Those able to attend school are often mentally abused by teachers, must sit in the back of the classrooms, and are made to clean toilets.