Category Archives: Madhes Movement

Madhes Violence: Identity Clash in Nepal

An Analysis by Conflict Study Center Contributors: Dr. Bishnu Pathak and Chitra Niraula (Assisted by Shankar Poudyal, Prem Prasad Pathk, Yahsoda Upreti and Krishna Sundar Thapa)

Introduction Eight people have died and dozens have been injured in the sporadic violence in the eastern Madhes from January 19, 2007 initiated from Lahan Municipality in Siraha district, 400 km to the east of Kathmandu. Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (Madhesi People’s Rights Forum) or MJF or MPRF, led by former Maoist leader Upendra Yadav, had called the movement. The key demands of the MJF were federal structure of government with autonomy and proportional election system based on density of caste and ethnicity (more see box). Later, after the Lahan incident three demands have been added: the PM and Maoist Supremo Prachanda should apologize before the Madhesi community; the Home Minister should resign for the conducive environment to hold talks; and provide compensation to the victim’s family. Prachanda has apologized while the PM has not and compensation has been announced one billion Nepalese Currency to each while the Home Minister has not resigned.

The violence has now extended and intensified to the entire eastern and central Madhes in Morang, Sunsari, Saptari, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Bara and Parsa along with Kapilvastu in the western region. The government has clamped curfew in the sensitive urban centers of these districts. These districts lie on the major East-West Highway where trees have been fallen along the road and traffic have been completely stopped. Even ambulances with patients inside are stopped. Dozens of public and private vehicles including those belonging to UNOHCHR and National Human Rights Commission have been vandalized and many of those torched. Hundreds of passengers have been abandoned along the roads; without food, clothe and shelter. Markets and shops have been vandalized and closed. Because of this, there has been lack of supply of consumer goods and daily necessities and prices have soared. District Administration Offices, District Development Offices, District Courts, District Election Commissions, District Forest Offices, District Agriculture Offices, District Irrigation Offices, Police Posts, etc. have been torched. Pahade-originated government employees have been beaten and have almost gone underground. The Chief District Officers, who are responsible to security of entire concerned districts, are themselves insecure.

The CPN (Maoist) has begged for pardon for killing Ramesh Kumar Mahato, a student of Grade 10 and the government along with the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) has invited the MJF to hold talks. But none of the political party leaders and Parliamentarians of the Madhes have dared to visit violence areas. MJF has called for dignified and peaceful movement for Madhesi rights, which has turned violent. The incidences show that the movement has strayed beyond their call or the movement is without leadership. Due to which loss of private and public property is intensifying day by day. Demonstrators attack some FM stations including media person of Bara, Parsa and Rautahat district (central Madhes). Some of the journalists as they received life threat, left trouble districts. As a result, 12 local papers are closed and general people are being deprived to have right to information.

Background of violence

MJF cadres were campaigning against the detention of 28 MJF leaders in Kathmandu, who were arrested by police after burning the Interim Constitution (IC) the day after it was proclaimed. The MJF cadres had called for strike in the Madhes for their immediate release. From them, 14 were issued warrant to detain for 10 days on the charges of public crime. On the fourth day of the proclamation, MJF called for Madhes strike. CPN (Maoist) had organized a central training (first-ever publicly known) to its cadres at Chitawan in the Central Region. Around 80 MJF cadres were burning tyres on the highway and the mini-buses, with Maoist flag fluttering in the wind, carrying participants to training from Mechi-Koshi Zone escorted by police were stopped at Lahan. The escorting police backed and the Maoist and MJF cadres started tussle. During that time, a gun was fired to the mass by Siyaram Thakur (as reported in Media), which hit Ramesh lethally and died at spot. Police took him into custody. The tension heightened and vandalism took over; 17 vehicles were torched . Curfew was clamped the very day.

Several MJF cadres had cordoned the dead body of Ramesh in the evening; all of a sudden Maoist cadres arrived there in two trucks, one jeep and two dozen bikes and seized the body. They brought his family members and cremated his body. On January 22, 2007, MJF cadres organized a campaign, during which a police post was vandalized. Two policemen were wounded by bullets and then opened fire on the crowd; two bystanders were shot and died instantly and 3 out of 12 severely injured airlifted to Kathmandu for treatment died. After this, the movement spread like a prairie fire within Siraha and to the neighboring districts and turned violent. Violence reigned in all the highway and roadways including urban areas of the seven districts of the eastern and central Madhes. Kudrat Ali, central member of Ekata Parishad led by Nir Sumsher Rana, who was a minister during King’s reign, led the violent movement in Siraha and Saptari districts. Continue reading Madhes Violence: Identity Clash in Nepal

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Southern Nepal Conflict: When Criminals Take Charge of Demonstrations

A peace rally in Jhapa

With the heinous killing of Assistant Sub Inspector Naresh Jung Karki in Biratnagar this evening, it has become crystal clear that the ongoing movement in eastern Terai is more than just an expression of political dissatisfaction: it is overwhelmingly dominated by criminal intentions. To carry swords, iron rods and go on rampage in residential area can’t be a political demonstration. To demand federalism and proportional representation in election is a political work but to continue with murderous activities even after listening the genuine answer from the government established by the peoples’ movement is a deplorable act. Today’s killing of the policeman and other violent activities in the recent past in eastern Terai marks the spectacular comeback of royalist elements in political scenario that were sidelined by people in April. It was an open secret that they would seek ways for comeback to try their best to make democracy a failure. They will do anything to create the impression that monarchy is needed in Nepal. They used the Maoist movement in the past for the same and now they are trying to deliver this message: look what’s happening when king is sidelined. They will do everything to turn these demonstrations into full fledged communal conflict in Nepal which will ultimately weaken peoples’ united power to run the government.

How can anyone justify the brutal killing of a policeman? [ASI Naresh Jung Karki was leading a 13-member police team at Buddhanagar, Biratnagar at 5 pm this evening. Criminals associating themselves with the Madheshi Peoples’ Rights Forum (MPRF) surrounded the police team and barbarically killed Karki to death by using knives and swords. The protesters, according to eKantipur, also abducted three other policemen after attacking them with sharp weapons, sources said. The criminals also took away 2 rifles and a pistol from the policemen. In retaliation, the police had opened fire on them. The bloody protests in southeastern Nepal have already claimed the lives of ten people over the past two weeks.] How can you justify a movement that, it seems, doesn’t believe in talks? Even the Maoists, who were waging a violent war, came to the talks table and engaged themselves in peace process. But these elements that are spreading violence in Madhesh under the cover of political demands are exposing themselves as days are passing. They will put forward one nonsense demand after another as the government goes on addressing them. The government must use its machinery to expose infiltrating criminal elements. It has partially done so by arresting Kamal Thapa, Badri Mandal and Salim Ansari but this must be intensified. We are running out of time.

Prachanda Says

CPN-Maoist Chairman Prachanda today assured that the eight parties would address the demands of the Madhesi people since an agreement in principle for a federal democratic setup had already been reached. Prachanda made the comments today while talking to the media after a meeting with representatives of various human right organizations. He also added that homework was being done to implement a proportional electoral model in the country. Prachanda further claimed that the demands of the Terai community were also the demands raised by his own party, adding that this had make things “easier” for him. He also assured that the CPN-M was taking the issue of the Madhesi movement very seriously.

Koirala on TV, Addresses Madheshi Demands

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala appeared on national television a few minutes ago to tell the country that the government has agreed to address the key demands put forward by the agitating Madheshi groups in southern Nepal. That wasn’t exactly what we call an address to nation (Koirala was addressing a gathering of selected leaders from different political parties and that was broadcast live on at least two TV stations in Kathmandu, around Nepal and abroad via satellite links) but Koirala delivered the message effectively. In the beginning he gave unwritten speech in his own trademark style. Then he grabbed a written statement and read out the content. That statement contained the decisions made by the eight parties in the past several hours on the ongoing Madheshi movement.

girija prasad koirala addressing nation

Prime Minister Koirala seemed genuine and honest in his words. He said that he was worried about the possible involvement reactionary forces in the agitation. Prime Minister Koirala said he was worried about not being able to hold election of constituent assembly election on time, a key mandate, he said, of the April uprising. Prime Minister emphasized that the problem in Terai was internal and Nepalis themselves should solve it. This country belongs to all of us Nepalis, he said, it doesn’t belong to any one individual. He said the government has decided include federal governance structure in the upcoming constitution to be formulated by the Constituent Assembly. He also said the electoral constituencies will be revised on the basis of population. While doing so, the Prime Minister said, no existing constituencies in districts will be removed.

NOW, the movement in Terai (Southern Nepal) that is increasingly turning into communal and secessionist MUST be stopped. AND the state of Nepal must focus itself to the election of Constituent Assembly.

Terai News: Lamas Looted, Meetings in Kathmandu, Threat to Journalist

Several buses carrying passengers and escorted by Armed Police Force were attacked yesterday night in front of Chinimill area in Birgunj. Around 29 buses had left the town for Kathmandu at 11 PM. Around 11:20 PM scoundrels attacked the vehicles, smashed wind glasses, and looted the books, clothes, and other belongings of Buddhist monks (Lamas). Attackers, suspected activists of Madheshi Peoples’ Rights Forum (MPRF), looted belongings of Lamas who were returning from Bodh Gaya, India. 43 Lamas were traveling. In the photo above, a Lama shows a book. He said that books like this one were looted. All pics by Subodh Singh Continue reading Terai News: Lamas Looted, Meetings in Kathmandu, Threat to Journalist

Nepal Terai Tension: Protests Continue, Media Targeted

Photos from yesterday’s protests

bhairahawa maoist harmony rally

Himal, Pahad, Terai: Kohi Chhaina Parai CPN Maoist organized rally in Bhairahawa that stressed on communal harmony in Nepali society. Many activists associated with other political parties and general citizens took part in the rally to protest communal incidents in eastern Terai recently. Pics by Madhav Dhungana Continue reading Nepal Terai Tension: Protests Continue, Media Targeted

Birgunj Protest and Chitwan Rally

For the record (Photos from yesterday protests): Saturday saw continuity in protests violating the curfew orders in Birgunj. Demonstrators set afire a small hotel and destroyed half of dozen vehicles. All pics by Subodh Singh

>>>The situation in the eastern Terai region that has been under the grip of unrest for the past few weeks did not seem to improve today as well. Another protester was killed in police firing in Kalaiya, Bara today. Police opened fire on the protesters when the agitated Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) activists defied the curfew orders, according to eKantipur. Sporadic demonstrations are being carried out at various places in the region since early this morning. The local administrations in Kalaiya, Janakpur and Birgunj imposed daytime curfew so as to curb any untoward situation in the cities. A 13-hour curfew has been imposed in Kalaiya, Bara, where the situation seemed to go berserk today following the death of a protester there yesterday, to thwart any violent activities. The local administration has imposed a curfew from 8am to 9pm in order to control bring the situation under control. Similarly, in Janakpur, local administration has imposed a nine-hour curfew – 8am-5pm – after agitators began protesting since early morning. The protesters who had blazed the Janakpur Customs Office building three days ago put its vehicles to aflame. On the other hand, Lahaan, the epicentre of the eastern Terai region from where the spark of unrest got spread, remained comparatively calm today. Continue reading Birgunj Protest and Chitwan Rally

Tension in Terai: Protest and Curfew Continue

The local administrations in the eastern Terai today extended curfew orders in various parts of the region that was under the grip of violent demonstrations and unrest for the last few days. Tensions, however, have gone down a notch with city centers remaining comparatively quieter although there have been reports of sporadic protests since early morning today. The District Administration Office (DAO) Birgunj today clamped yet another 10-hour curfew effective from 10am to 8pm after the situation did not appear to be improving. Likewise, DAO Lahan issued a four-hour curfew order beginning at 12 noon. Meanwhile, a rally staged prior to the curfew in Lahan today traversed the city, reminding the residents that the ongoing protests were not communal in nature and urged Lahan residents not to make it so. (more)

The district administration in Parsa has issued curfew orders in Birgunj from Thursday after the protests organized by Madheshi Peoples’ Rights Forum (MPRF) turned violent and communal. Foreigners like these seen in the photo had to walk up to Simra Airport (as long as 29 kilometers) Friday, 26 Jan to go to Kathmandu as there were no vehicles on the street. Pic by Subodh Singh Continue reading Tension in Terai: Protest and Curfew Continue

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

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.

Nepal in Transition: Maoist and Madhesi Forum Clash, One Dies

Voice of Terai from the United States of America

The following is a press statement issued by ANTA (Association of Nepali teraians in America) NY chapter president Dr. Binay Kumar Shah in 20 Jan.

Association of Nepali Teraian in America (ANTA) has noted with concern the continuing disruption of normal life in the Terai region of Nepal. ANTA believes that the recent success of negotiations between the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) Government and the Communist Party of Nepal (M) leading to the promulgation of an Interim Constitution, Interim Parliament and the forthcoming Interim Government offers the best opportunity ever to restructure the Nepali state so as to reflect the best interests and aspirations of all Nepalis, including the traditionally marginalized people of the Terai region. ANTA firmly believes in democracy, fair political competition and proactive policies by national government as means to overcome the disadvantaged position in which the people of Terai have been relegated by the past regimes. Keeping a forward looking approach, ANTA sees the holding of the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections as central to forming an inclusive democratic system in Nepal.

Aware of the high stakes in a successful transition, ANTA calls on all the political leaders and Nepali people to show highest levels of tolerance, restraint and accommodation at this critical juncture of political transition. Welcoming the statements, as reported in the media, by the government leaders as well as the leaders of both factions of Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) to engage in negotiations to resolve outstanding issues, we call for expedited negotiations to end violence and strengthen the democratic process. ANTA also shares The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Nepal’s concern over the arrest of Madhesi activists and political party members and calls for their immediate release. In the best interest of Nepal’s national unity and democracy, ANTA also calls on the government to
respond promptly to the legitimate demands of the people of Terai region including speedy distribution of citizenships to all those eligible population as the basis of representation, greater autonomy to the people of Terai region and better and visible representation of Terai people in all aspects of government. ANTA firmly believes that the overall development of Terai can only result in a stronger Nepal.

lahan maoist tension

Scene from Lahan, Siraha: Protestors burnt several vehicles.

UWB notice: It has come to our attention that some web sites and publications are using photos published in UWB without our permission. PLEASE do not do so.

By Bharat Jargha Magar

Siraha Distric Administration has clamped a curfew from 6pm today to 4am tomorrow in Lahan, Siraha and the surrounding regions after the entire locality grew tense following the death of a student during a scuffle between Maoist cadres and Forum for Madhesi People’s Rights. A 16-year-old student Ramesh Kumar Mahato of Majhaura, Siraha died when he was shot by the Maoist cadres on Friday at Lahan Chowk. The Maoist cadres opened fire following an argument between them and the forum activists killing Mahato. The forum activists were staging a demonstration at Lahan Chowk when Maoist cadres who came in two minibuses and a jeep accosted the demonstrators just before one of the Maoist cadres opened fire. Following Mahato’s death, a group of angry locals attacked the Maoist cadres. Shiyaram Mahato who opened fire was seriously injured in the attack. The agitated locals also burnt two trucks and eight other vehicles. The forum activists had been staging demonstrations since the morning protesting against the arrest of their president Upendra Yadav. Police later fired several blank rounds to control the situation and have detained two Maoist cadres. CDO Shashi Shekhar Shrestha said that a curfew order has been issued to bring the situation in the region “under control.” Despite the curfew, irked locals kept on staging demonstrations in several thoroughfares in the city.

lahan maoist tension

Questions we ask to Nepal government and Maoist:
1. Why are Maoist cadres still roaming around with arms?
2. Why both of you don’t start talking to groups like Terai Janatantrik Mukti Morcha (TJMM) [both Goait and Jwala Singh factions] and Forum for Madhesi People’s Rights (FMPR)?

Continue reading Nepal in Transition: Maoist and Madhesi Forum Clash, One Dies