Nepal's only Raute police woman

Indigenous Voice
Indigenous Voice26 Jan 2016, Tuesday
Nepal's only Raute police woman

                                                              Abinash Dahit

She is a celebrity cop. Not because she is a top officer. Not because she has nabbed a most-wanted criminal. She is a celebrity because of her ethnicity – and  the fact that she overcame all the odds to be a police woman.

Meet Kamala Raute, the first police woman belonging to Nepal's last surviving nomadic tribe.

Rautes, the last hunter-gatherers of Nepal, still live in the woods of the mid-western region, hunting down wild animals, mostly monkeys, and making wooden vessels for a living. They occasionally stray into towns, sometimes even Kathmandu, but they still prefer to live the way they have always been living.

If the Rautes come across a person wearing modern dress while chasing a wild animal, they consider it as a bad omen. They believe they will not be able to hunt down wild animals the day they see an outsider clad in modern outfit.

Rautes, the last hunter-gatherers of Nepal, still live in the woods of the mid-western region, hunting down wild animals, mostly monkeys, and making wooden vessels for a living. They occasionally stray into towns, sometimes even Kathmandu, but they still prefer to live the way they have always been living.

But now, a Raute woman is wearing a police uniform for the first time. She has challenged the customs of her ethnic tribe that they should not wear modern clothes, do jobs and live in the society.

What is even more remarkable is that she did not join Nepal Police in a quota. She participated in an open competition and beat many others to be a police woman two years ago. "I was confident that I could pass the exams," she says.

Kamala is shy and introvert. But that did not stop her from joining the police organization. Although she is a member of Nepal's last nomadic community, her family departed from the tribe and became assimilated in the modern society. She was encouraged and supported by the family to join the police.

"I am proud of myself," she says. "Despite being a nomad ethnicity-wise, I am now a police woman."

What is even more remarkable is that she did not join Nepal Police in a quota. She participated in an open competition and beat many others to be a police woman two years ago. "I was confident that I could pass the exams," she says.

Kamala's first posting was at the appellate court of Patan. She is now posted at the Seti Zonal Police Office, Dhangadhi. She says: "I hope to inspire other women from my community to study and work." 

For some reason, Kamala had hidden her identity. She had had her name written as 'Raute'. When her true identity was revealed, she was encouraged by her seniors to boast of her unique ethnicity. DSP Ganga Panta says: "I don't know why her true identity was hidden. As soon as I knew she was a Raute, I ordered correction of her name."

Panta adds: "We are proud to have someone from the Raute community in our organization. She could set an example for her community."

The Raute population is dwindling fast. According to the population census of 2011, only 611 Rautes are now found in the mid-western region.

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