Tense Southern Nepal: Terai Demonstrations

Quick info: Nepal is geographically divided into three regions: Himal (Mountains), Pahad (Hills) and Terai or Madhesh (Plain). People residing in those areas are called Himali, Pahadi and Madheshi.

Biratnagar, a town in Terai Nepal, was tense today as Madheshi Peoples’ Right Forum (MPRF) called for Banda (strike). A group of residents opposing the Banda clashed with those supporting it. Forum activists vandalized 18 trucks loaded with production materials and destroyed 11 buses that were parked in the bus park. As the mob started vandalizing everything around the district administration of Morang imposed curfew effective from 4 PM to 10 PM targeting major precincts. The demonstrations continued as the curfew came into effect and police fired 18 rounds in air and 24 tear gas shell. All pics and reports by Bhim Ghimire

biratnagar strike

Madheshi Peoples’ Right Forum (MPRF) activists with lathis in their hands Continue reading Tense Southern Nepal: Terai Demonstrations

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Nepal in Transition: Curfews in Terai, Fire is Spreading

Curfew in Siraha, Janakpur, Birgunj and Biratnagar (here is more)

News reports coming from Terai parts of eastern Nepal are indeed alarming. The fire is spreading rapidly. The authorities were forced to impose curfew in Birjung today (1.30 PM to 10 PM) afternoon after doing the same in the past few days in Lahan and, from yesterday, in Dhanusha. The chairman of Madhesi Peoples’ Rights Forum (MPRF), the outfit that is behind some of these protests, Upendra Yadav has responded positively to the Prime Minister’s call for talks yesterday even though he has intended to continue the protest. To continue “peaceful protest” in these times means no other than turning them into violent one and creating communal fire that threatens to engulf the whole nation. Some people with vested interest are definitely trying to fish in the dirty water. Some have fresh ambitions of becoming a “leader” by exploiting these situations.

Reports from Birjung suggest that those who are organizing these protests had planned for these situations for quite some time. A reporter from the town said: “They started circulating video CDs of Nepalgunj communal tension from Poush 1 and they issued circular to forcefully take out topis (caps) from people of pahade (hill) community.” Even those these groups are claiming to fight for the benefit of Teraians (people from flat region) they are basically targeting the pahades and trying to make the whole affair a communal conflict rather than the fight for the better representation of Teraians in the state of affairs.

That is why we are seeing a group after another in Terai these days that is claiming to fight for Teraians. Maoist breakaway faction has been spitted into two (Goit and Jwala Singh) and there is MPRF. There are other small time groups that are trying to emerge as the leader in the crisis by doing things that hurt the social harmony. Do all these people who are protesting in various parts really understand what they are doing? Are they all Nepalis? Are all these groups or persons behind the unrest politically motivated? If so, why can’t they wait until the CA elections and vote for the change that they want. After all, Constituent Assembly is the forum that is supposed to be working on restructuring the nation and overhauling the ruling structure of Nepal. Why are these folks trying to disturb the biggest democratic exercise that people of this country are about to exercise for the first time in history?

The letter above is written by Goit faction of Terai Janatantrik Mukti Morcha (TJMM), a breakaway faction of Maoist, to the owners of industries, banks and other financial institutions in Terai area. The letter “orders” to fire all staffs of pahade origin (hill) and hire educated Madhesi or youths from Terai within seven days. The letter was written some 9 days ago. “Harsh action will be taken if our cadres, who will come to inspect your office, find any pahade staff.” says the letter. It instructs not to give donations to any of the seven parties or the Maoists. “If you receive threats from those parties for not giving donations we will protect you,” states the letter. UWB erased the name of the addressee and date.

The Royal Moustache and Baluwataar Tea Pary

gyanendra shah moustache Gyanendra, the ‘ousted’, rejected and ejected (any other words out there?) king, has sported the mustache, huh? Don’t dare to dismiss this as yet another Gyanendra bashing cheap joke but that was the talk of the town today after newspapers in Kathmandu came up with front page image of the monarch in question. Gyanendra with moustache? No serious answer was received though. Honestly, people in my circle hate to even pronounce the name Gyanendra, such is the intensity of hatred towards the monarchy that is on the verge of disappearing from Nepal. Or, so we like to think about! Anyway, moustache for Birendra, Gyanendra’s brother and the king till the palace massacre in 2001, seemed unmovable part of the facial structure. Birendra’s son Dipendra also used sport junga (and occasionally beard or daari). I don’t claim this is the first time I have seen Gyanendra with moustache but I think I don’t remember seeing him with mustache before. Paras occasionally sports junga but haven’t seen him with daari so far. Anyway, I don’t remember if seeing a dariwal Paras. Am I already giving 197 words to junga of Gyanendra, who according to news reports, have been removed from the bank notes?

On the serious note, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala today hosted a tea party for leaders of Seven Party Alliance and Maoist party in his residence in Baluwataar. Was that just a chiya party? No way, Koirala actually wanted to thrash Prachanda, the chairman of the Maoist party, for the latter’s irresponsible and deplorable behavior in Lahan, Siraha recently. Yes, telephone conversations between Koirala and Prachanda are taking place almost regularly but the chiya meeting was needed because something serious is happening in Siraha and other parts of Terai and that needs to be addressed collectively by the SPA and Maoist leadership. This is the chance to make something difference. There is no way you can ignore it and move ahead as if you are unaffected. That is exactly why these words came from Koirala, otherwise a hardliner, in today’s meeting:

“All of us have our right to speak and express our views as this is a nation which has unity in diversity. Therefore all our problems should be resolved through dialogue. So, I request the people of Madhes to resolve their problems through talks. If we tried to walk away from dialogue, the reactionary forces could rise and the nation could be in danger. The ‘regressive forces’ could take advantage of any protests for the time being.”

Koirala is right in his words and intentions. They are raising some valid issues but Goit, Jwala and Madhesi Peoples’ Rights Forum and a few other known/unknown groups are increasingly turning into the weapons of reactionary forces (who are sporting jungas and may be daaris) and Indian religious fundamentalists. I know what Maoists did in Lahan (fired upon a crowd) was deplorable but I think Prachanda must be taken seriously when he says “Hindu extremists are behind Terai unrest.” He said:

“A few days ago some Hindu followers had a gathering at Gorakhpur in India (bordering Nepal). Some elements, who were involved in terrorizing Madhes, also participated in the gathering, which has already been publicized in the media. These incidents (recent unrest) happened after that. Therefore some Hindu extremists, not through religious belief but acting as extremists and royalist forces, who are against the Constituent Assembly elections, are involved in the incidents.”

Unfortunately Prachanda didn’t feel responding to the question, at least publicly, why on Earth his —- cadres were roaming around armed in Lahan and killed the boy. -Wagle

For the record: Monitoring of Maoist arms management at Shaktikhor, Chitwan was halted abruptly on Tuesday (23 Jan) as a string of arguments arose between the UN team and Maoist cadres, Kantipur reports. Sources said the UN team refused to register those Maoist cadres who seemed to be of the ages of 12 to 15 – but the team was pressurized to register them as 18-year-olds – which gave rise to an argument, with the UN team ultimately deciding to stop the registration process. Maoist deputy commander Barsha Man Pun ‘Ananta’ confirmed the news and informed that from Wednesday (24 Jan) the registration process will resume.