Around 6,000 community members are protesting the appointments of people from other communities as sweepers and cleaners, saying they have been the "most neglected" lot of the society.
Harijans, widely termed as 'untouchables', have been living in appalling condition, being deprived of education, employment and housing, The Daily Star said Friday. Having participated in the country's freedom movement and separation from Pakistan has not improved their conditions. In jobs, they remain daily wage earners after years of working, their leaders say.
They continue to live in densely populated commercial and residential areas of the city without any sanitation, sewerage, drinking water, electric supply and education facilities. "We do not have any land for permanent residence," said Harijn leader Joyanta Kumar Das, secretary of the Barisal Harijan Oikkya Parishad.
The rate of literacy among Harijans of the city was less than 20 percent, said Laxman Lal, president of the Parishad."There is only one primary school for the Harijan community at Amir Kutir and admission of the Harijan children in other schools is often discouraged, Laxman said.