NUWAKOT, March 8: Developing Nepal as a secular state by eliminating caste discrimination was one of the popular slogans of the decade-long armed Maoist insurgency that made sense to many.
Nabin Pudasaini of Nuwakot was “sick and tired of” watching people being victimized by the society for belonging to a so-called lower caste and was one of those youths to whom the Maoist slogan made quite a lot of sense.
Nabin, back then just 15, was so impressed by the slogan that he decided to join the war. A young boy from a Brahmin family dared to fight the war for his dream of making Nepal a secular state, free from all kinds of discrimination.
During the war, the Maoists tried to popularize the concept of arranging marriages between Dalits and non-Dalits within the party. Nabin liked the idea very much. But he knew it very well that he won't be able to change society without changing himself first. So, in 2005, he married Kalpana Sunar, a girl from a Dalit family.
After the April uprising of 2006, Nabin returned to his village with his wife. But things were not as expected. He soon realized that the society was yet to change when people of the so-called high class including some of his relatives 'discarded' him for marrying a woman from a marginalized community. Some of them even threatened his parents to convince their son to leave his wife.
“All the difficulties and challenges that we went through would not have mattered if we had been able to bring change in society,” said Nabin.
Today, Nabin expresses his disappointment in these words - “Some stubborn people don't want to come out of their conservative cocoons. I know people have been unfair to me and my family but I am more concerned about the society. As long as such thinking exists, the country won't develop.”
According to him, many people are yet to change their mindset about inter-caste marriage. This has been a challenge for those like him who dared to change society by going for inter-caste marriage.
Unable to bear with society's pressure, Nabin was forced to leave his village. And now it has been 13 years since he has been living in Bidur, the district headquarters, with his wife and two daughters.
Now, he is the coordinator of the Local Peace Committee, Nuwakot, and a member of the CPN Maoist as well.
In his absence, people started mistreating his parents. They were isolated when people stopped inviting them to religious functions referring to them as untouchables. As a result, they were compelled to leave their village with their fields barren. Now, they sometimes live with Nabin in Trishuli and sometimes with their elder son in tarai.
Two months ago, when Nabin's father went to their village for the funeral of his mother, his relatives and some of his brothers prohibited him from participating in the rituals, calling him an untouchable.
His two uncles who were close to their family were also discarded by the villagers for supporting him. Nabin feels bad for his uncles who are bearing the brunt for his decision. Some of his own relatives are involved in plotting against them, according to Nabin.