Amrit Singh Bhujel
Bhujel is one of Nepal's 59 indigenous groups. They are scattered in several districts, mostly in Tanahu and Morang. They lag behind other communities, and are under-represented in state organs. Like other ethnic communities, Bhujels have also been excluded by the state. And they are now asserting their identity, demanding that the state recognize it and incorporate them in the mainstream.
Ancestors of Bhujel had their own principality around Dhorpatan, Baglung. With creation of 22 different states in Nepal in the 14th century, Bhujels lost their kingdom. They fled their ancestral land and ended up scattering everywhere. A group of them settled down in Tanahu. Those who managed to flee survived. Those who failed to flee surrendered, and ended up supporting the Gorkha kingdom. Like other indigenous groups, Bhujels depend on natural resources. But they have been deprived of it in modern times.
Bhujels have also been excluded by the state. And they are now asserting their identity, demanding that the state recognize it and incorporate them in the mainstream.
Exclusion of Bhujel began with the demise of their principality. Discrimination against them was compounded by the Muluki Ain introduced by the Rana regime. The Rana oligarchs classified ethnic tribes in two groups: those who could not be sold and those could be sold. Bhujels fell under second category. They were known as Ghartis. And the surname Gharti is still looked upon with embarrassment. Some Bhujels started hiding or changing their surnames to avoid embarrassment. The damage done by discriminatory provisions in the Muluki Ain was huge, and the state has never been able to compensate Bhujels for it.
Bhujels are very few and far between. They are scattered. It compounded their problems. Their culture was threatened by other dominant cultures.
The state adopted discriminatory policies to promote one language, one religion and identity during the Panchayat era. As a result, identity of multiple ethnic groups was sidelined. Indigenous people could not preserve and practice their language, culture and identity. Bhujels' was no exception.
Bhujels are very few and far between. They are scattered. It compounded their problems. Their culture was threatened by other dominant cultures. Today, the modern generation of Bhujel finds it hard to believe they once had distinct culture and language.