//Passport delay ends Dalit woman's dream to attend UN convention

Passport delay ends Dalit woman's dream to attend UN convention

Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna | February 27, 2006 17:18 IST

A Dalit woman’s dream to attend the United Nations convention ended due to delay in acquiring a passport, thanks to the apathy of government officials.

Girija Devi was to visit America to represent India at an international UN-sponsored seminar to share her experiences on livelihood and development.

Thanks to the slow and lengthy process as well as the red tapism of officials, Girija Devi failed to get her passport on time. The convention began on February 24, and she received her passport on February 25.

Girija Devi, 59, a mother of four children from Bhirkia-Chapaulia village in east Champaran district was selected by United Nation’s Division for Advancement of Women Department to attend the meet in New York. She belongs to the poor Dalit community of musahars, who are known to eat rats for survival.

She is disappointed and frustrated as she was not able to attend the convention. If she could have made it, she would have been the first woman from her community to address such a meet before the world.

She was invited to address the seminar on ‘Women Environment and Development Organisation’ in Bhojpuri as she does not know either Hindi or English. She is the first woman from rural Bihar and fifth from India to participate in a UN seminar.

Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal, Bahujan Samaj Party have decided to raised this issue in the ongoing budget session of the State Assembly on Tuesday.

"We will raise the issue because it was the state government’s fault in not providing her passport on time. This was done to stop her from attending the UN convention to present her views" RJD leader Shayam Rajak told rediff.com.

"I ran from pillar to post, but they (officials) could not give me the passport in time," she said in chaste Bhojpuri.

Musahar Vikas Manch leader Amar Kumar Majhi blamed "red tape" for Girija’s plight and sees a conspiracy behind it.

"The old Dalit woman was forced to run from one office to another despite getting invitation from the UN office, one can imagine about others," he said.