Chamar receives Darnal Award:
News Coverage by The Kathmandu Post
By Sarita Pariyar
Raksha Ram Chamar (Harijan) was awarded the first Darnal International Award for Social Justice on Monday for his endeavour to seek justice for Dalits and marginalised community.
The award, established by Jagaran Media Centre and Sarita Pariyar Trust Fund in memory of late Suvash Darnal, who fought for social justice in the country, carries a purse of Rs 500,000.
Born in Kapilvastu, Chamar, 28, an educator and a journalist and now a lawyer, is the first Dalit in his village in the district to complete high school.
Chamar began his fight for social justice by setting up a primary school in his village so that children from Dalit community would not have to leave their village for education. He then continued his advocacy for social justice through journalism as a reporter in a paper in his home district and later became the editor of a weekly newspaper, Pradeshik Samachar. He currently practices law and advocates for the rights of people from the marginalised communities.
His first break came in 2014 when the Supreme Court (SC) ruled in his favour in a case against the Public Service Commission. The commission subsequently changed its regulations to allow for reservations for marginalised groups.
He rose to fame after securing legal victory in a case he filed together with Rita Sah and Vijay Kant Karna in June 2015. The petitioners had argued that “an agreement by three top political parties to promulgate a constitution that left details on federalism for future resolution was unconstitutional”. The SC ruling in favour of the petitioners had forced the parties to bring a constitution that included a map of the federal structure.
Chamar has also taken up the case of Ishan Adhikari, who had splashed red colour, as a symbol of blood, on the walls of Singha Durbar, demanding state apology, investigation and prosecution for killings of innocent citizens in the Tarai during political protests last year.
Chamar said the award has motivated him to make his fight even stronger for social justice for the marginalised communities.
“I salute Suvash (Darnal) for his efforts to create a society that is just and equitable,” said Chamar.
Darnal was the founding president of Jagaran Media Centre, a media hub run by Dalits for Dalits. Darnal also funded the Collective Campaign for Peace and founded the Samata Foundation. His untimely death five years ago at the age of 31 in a road accident in the United States was a huge setback for the Dalit movement in Nepal.
Professor Larry Diamond, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, who had taught Darnal, praised him as someone who took pride in the fact that he belonged to the Dalit community from Nepal and had great vision to empower the marginalised communities in his country.
Carl Gershman, founding president of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a US non-profit organisation with the stated goal of promoting democracy abroad, said Nepal, a diverse country, has the opportunity to set an example to the world as an inclusive country.
“Democracy is not only about holding elections, it is also about integrating the marginalised community,” said Gershman.