Nobel Prize Nominee & AAP Candidate – Tiliya Devi

By on March 25, 2014

AAP Candidate –  from Jhanjharpur, Bihar


A Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Outlook Speak Out Awardee.


Tiliya Devi (born 1963), from the Mushar community in the Dalit heartland in Bihar, grew up as most Mushar girls do: slaving as a bonded laborer. She was married off at 14, and continued being a bonded laborer-at her husband’s house.


Tiliya was a born leader, something no one was aware of, least of all she herself. And when the LSS wanted to add more numbers to its campaigns, Tiliya volunteered to rally women around from the villages in the vicinity. In every village she went to, she helped set up a Gramkosh, a common fund where every villager deposits money for an hour of need, or crisis. Her leadership and organizational capabilities were outstanding, and she soon established herself.

The Mushars were all farmers, but because of the lack of land in their settlements, they were forced to be “bonded” with big landlords. Tiliya discovered a 156–acre plot of land in her village belonging to the Dalits which upper caste Yadav landlords had encroached on.

Initiating a series of protest rallies, Tiliya spread the word for the imperative to reclaim the land that was rightfully theirs. The men refused outright, although the women stood beside Tiliya. There was such outrage that Tiliya’s husband evicted her from the house. The reason: fear of a backlash from the upper-castes. And the upper-castes, obviously, vented their fury, attacking the Mushar men, women, even children. They looted the Mushars’ cattle, and torched their houses.


But Tiliya was not about to give up, and neither were the rest of the Mushars. Supported by the LSS, Tiliya led a protest and charted out their demands. The agitation finally bore fruit in 2004, when the land was legally handed over to the Mushars. In 2001, Tiliya contested the Panchayat elections and was appointed member to the Panchayat Samity. Her victory came almost undisputed. No justice could have been sweeter.



In an award ceremony organised in 2005, Outlook quotes , “Tiliya Devi: For two decades, she worked tirelessly to create awareness about Dalit rights to land given under the Bhudaan movement.”

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