Tag Archives: terai

Did India deceive or did Madhesi Morcha misunderstand?

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Five Madhesi Morcha Leaders with Bihar (India) politician Lalu Yadav at his residence (Picture: Kantipur)

While talking for about an hour in Anamnagar, the leader’s two mobile phones rang continuously. He mostly ignored the calls, but when he did pick any one up, he would answer with exasperation, “Please wait a few days. We will sit and take a joint decision.”

The end of Srawan (mid-August) is the deadline for renewing government licenses, factory registrations and the like. By that time, the Morcha had already started its protests against the constitution-writing and federal demarcation. The Government offices in the Madhes plains were closed, making it impossible to renew any document. The cadre and supporters have been pestering the harried leaders to get the Government to cancel the fines slapped in the intervening six months.

Then there are the ordinary citizens, who have nothing more than their lives, their families and children, and perhaps a little plot of land. Among them, there are many who have been maimed or disabled. The Morcha does not have a count of how many died or were wounded during the movement.

The leader said, “If the talks (with the Government) had reached a certain point, we would have been in a position to make strong demands on all these matters. But right now, our self-esteem does not allow us to approach the Government. After all, we are in a movement.”

A general strike had been called in the plains by the Federal Inclusive Mahdesi Alliance on 15 August and by the Madhesi Morcha on 16 August. When the Constitution was promulgated on 20 September disregarding the Morcha’s displeasure and hectic Indian lobbying, India decided on its own to stop the transport of petroleum from the border points into Nepal.

[Related: A controlled Indian blockade on Nepal (BBC Report) ]

After India started the blockade on 22 September, the Front felt pressured to act. In informal meetings, India asked the Madhesi Morcha leaders to formally declare the blockade.

“The fact is, in earlier meetings we had ourselves suggested obstructing the border after violence escalated (against) Madhes. We had even gone to Raxaul to ask Indian officials to prevent passage of goods,” said one Morcha leader. “At first, the Indians did not come forward, fearing financial loss. Later, it was they who forced us to take the formal decision to blockade.”

A debate ensued among the Morcha members at the Rajbiraj meeting, which got extended. The meeting ultimately declared the blockade on 24 September, but by then transport of petroleum products had already been halted (by India) at all border points.

Leaders of Madhesi Morcha (Picture: Kantipur)
Leaders of Madhesi Morcha (Picture: Kantipur)

By the time of the Chhat festival, all the transit points had been closed, barring some consignments of fruits and grain that were allowed across. Thereafter, however, only the Birganj-Raxaul transit point was completely blocked while the others were all open.

Today, the Morcha’s senior leaders are pained to ask, “Why did India, after urging us to declare the blockade, proceed so enthusiastically on its own to lift it.”

[Related: Debunking Dr. Karan Singh’s misinformed comments on Nepal at Indian Rajya Sabha]

The second-rung leadership of the Morcha is even more confused: “At the Bijuli Bazaar meeting in the middle of January, our senior leaders had already announced that they would change the nature of the movement after 1 February. So why did India deceive our leaders? Or did our leaders fail to understand India’s suggestion.”

The ongoing turbulence within the Morcha today is the result of India’s diplomatic carelessness, maintains a leader of Sadbhavana Party. He is also perplexed as to why India opened all the other border points and kept only Birganj blocked for such a long time.

The Morcha has come out with its new schedule of protests, but they seem merely symbolic. Meanwhile, differences within the Morcha are escalating. On 3 February, TMLP Chair Mahanta Thakur went to stage a sit-in at the Miteri Bridge on the Birganj-Raxaul border, together with Vice-Chair Brishesh Chandra Lal and General Secretary Jitendra Sonal. There, Thakur said the blockade would continue.

[Related: India puts Nepal on Ventilator Support by blockading the country’s imports (BBC Report)]

The Sadbhavana Party Chair Rajendra Mahato arrived in Biratnagar the next day, on 4 February, and proclaimed there was no logic in keeping Birganj closed. This created a furor within the Morcha. When in a 8 February meeting the Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Chair Upendra Yadav and TMLP leaders demanded that Mahato retract his statement, the latter staged a walk out. He has since threatened to start his own grand coalition or front.

TMLP’s Sonal said he did not believe Mahato would be able to start an independent front. He said, “We have asked him to correct himself and join the common platform. He has yet to announce his plans. Meanwhile, we will analyse the situation gravely and go before the people.”

Sadbhavana Party General Secretary Manish Kumar Suman said that while there were some misunderstandings within the Morcha, his party would not be diverted from the movement. Even though there is propaganda that the blockade was conducted by India, he claimed that in reality it was the Morcha’s doing.

[Related: Nepal- Madhesi groups have the highest representation in government jobs]

Said Suman, “If the border sit-in and general strike has benefited the Madhesi people, we will get the credit. If it has done harm, we will have to accept the blame. Why talk of others? There is no need to feel disheartened for having lifted the blockade. We should not forget that the other leaders had already announced their intention to change the nature of the movement before Sadbhavana’s Rajendra Mahato spoke up.”

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Roundup: Madhes and the Obstruction at CA

Protests start against ‘One Madhes, One Province’ outside CA

Today: With the government all set to address the demands forwarded by the Madhes-based parties through a supplementary amendment bill, various indigenous groups residing in Terai have expressed strong objections to the “One Madhes, One Province” demand. Some 22 organisations including Tharu Welfare Assembly have been staging demonstrations outside the Constituent Assembly (CA) venue at New Baneshwor in the capital on Saturday (today). Earlier today, representatives of about 15 organisations concerning the Tharu community took out a protest rally against the ‘One Madhes, One Province’ demand in the capital. The participants of the rally that was organised by Tharu Welfare Assembly, an umbrella organisation representing the Tharu community, appealed to stop converting Tharuhat land into Madhes immediately. They also requested not to use the term ‘Madhes’ in the interim constitution. They stressed that the entire issues including that of the Madhesis must be decided by the CA.
The indigenous groups of Terai said that the identity of the indigenous groups will disappear if the whole Terai region is declared Madhes. They also expressed concern claiming that attempts were being made to hand over their native land, political and civic rights to the Madhesi community. Continue reading Roundup: Madhes and the Obstruction at CA

TWTWTW: Looking for a Term to Define a Madhes State

There are many differences over the definition of a “Madhes autonomous province” and “group entry” of certain communities into Nepal Army among the top three political parties- CPN Maoist, NC, CPN UML. That has made them fail to prepare the draft of a supplementary constitution amendment bill that was supposed to address the demands raised by Madhesi political parties and ensure smooth functioning of the Constituent Assembly meeting that has been stalled for five consecutive days. “We proposed that the constitution amendment bill should guarantee right to autonomous provinces for all ethnic groups and marginalized communities,” said Maoist leader Dev Gurung, a member of the taskforce formed by the parties to resolve the issue. Continue reading TWTWTW: Looking for a Term to Define a Madhes State

Maoist Campaigns and Elections Security Situation

Just because eight districts are having problems doesn’t mean rest of the 67 districts is deprived of the much needed democratic process. …if outfits that are terrorizing some parts of Terai don’t respond positively to the repeated calls for talks by the government the option of crushing them militarily should not be ruled out.

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

[Update on Birgunj Blast: CDO among 30 injured in blasts near SPA assembly, MMT claims responsibility. details]

While passing through Minbhawan today, I saw a few wall paintings apparently sponsored by the Maoist party as part of their campaign for the elections of the Constituent Assembly. The publicity slogans asked the viewer to caste their votes for the Maoist party’s election symbol (hammer and sickle inside a circle). The graffiti also urged the people to push the party into victory so that Prachanda, the Chairman of the party, could be made the first president of Nepal. That made me happy. The Maoists, who threatened to disrupt the elections and were until recently fighting for the communist dictatorship, are now throwing themselves into the electoral democracy! This is a great change (probably the kind of change that Barrack Obama is advocating for in the US!) Here is another surprise: the Maoists are on the forefront of the electoral activities (last time it was the CPN UML) as they already finalized some of the candidates for the elections that also includes top leaders like Prachanda. (Prachanda will contest from Kathmandu and Rolpa and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai from Gorkha). If he contests from Kathmandu-1, then I will be one of his possible voters. Continue reading Maoist Campaigns and Elections Security Situation

Nepal in Transition: Terai Secession Is a Myth

As twin kids of the Maoists escalate their violence in eastern Terai in the name of the so called ‘Terai’ nation, it becomes increasingly difficult to see how any educated realist from Terai could ever support them.

By Chhatra Bahadur [This article first appeared in a private discussion forum and UWB is publishing this article with writer’s permission. Chhatra Bahadur is not a real name.]

Almost all failed politicians in Nepal sooner or later tend to resort to the dirtiest method available to them. Look at Padma Ratna Tuladhar. After being rejected by his own population in election, the old lion has now turned into a reckless elephant, destroying houses and farms with the manufactured claim of marginalization of Newars. Now give me a break. Newars are among the richest, most educated people. They have become prime minister, and were private secretary of the kings. And the vaunted Newar culture of Kathmandu was a thing of past when Prithvi Narayan attacked Kathmandu. If you remove the reign of Bhupatindra Malla, Siddi Narasingh Malla and Pratap Malla, and subtract the contribution of Licchavi, what will be left about Kathmandu is a continuous fight in the valley among the Malla kingdoms. The last king Jaya Prakash Malla was fighting with his own people for most of his reign, and was betrayed by his own people when he finally fell to Gorkha. Ditto with tumultuous Patan and gradually unstabilised Bhaktapur. Those kingdoms were sitting ducks when Prithvi took them. Truth hurts, but these are the realities, and Padma Ratna and his ilks need to face them.

I mean think about this: if a king of the poorest of the chaubise kingdom- Gorkha had no market, no mines, and with 12,000 population was considered a small country- could win three ‘mighty’ kingdoms of the valley, how safe you were really from the mighty and cunning British, who needed a ‘hill station’ and a ‘trade route’ to Tibet? The British needed a decent hill station so badly that later, they settled in a barren land later to be called Darjiling.

Padma Ratna or Keshav Sthapit are not the only whiners. After not being able to win the election, after getting downsized from 6 to 3 members in parliament, Nepal Sadbhavana Party had no other option but to resort more violently to the terai issue. But most important transformation came with the spoilt brats like Bimalendra Nidhi and Jaya Prakash Gupta. Nidhi lost his own election, his stature, and is not even comparable to the shadow of his illustrious father. JP Gupta’s latest book is nothing but a chronicle of self victimization when he was indubitably a corrupt man who is free now exactly because of corruptibility of present judiciary. These people now talk loudly about victimization of Terai.

As twin kids of the Maoists escalate their violence in eastern Terai in the name of the so called ‘Terai’ nation, it becomes increasingly difficult to see how any educated realist from Terai could ever support them. Just like most of the Nepali rejected the Maoists despite the feeling that some of their core demands stemmed from legitimate concerns, decent people in Terai are going to reject these firebrand opportunists, while maintaining that their demand do have valid foundation, and that we all need to work out the future path nonviolently.

Think about this: what would a free Terai look like? Now, Chitwan and Makwanpur are the districts heavily populated by “Pahadiyas”, so heavy indeed that Sadbhabana party didn’t even field a candidate in Chitwan in the past elections. Since these districts touch India, any country of “Terai” will be like pre-1971 Pakistan, geographically separate. To go to Rupandehi from Siraha, one will have to go from India or a part of Nepal. In the long run, like erstwhile Pakistan, such states don’t survive.

If somehow present Terai is merged with India, the situation of Teraibasis won’t improve either. Biharis are treated pretty badly in places like Bombays or New Delhi, something similar to how ignorant Kathmanuites treat them in Kathmandu.

Talk to both JTMM factions: Jwala Singh

By Bedraj Poudel

INARUWA, Jan 13- Jwala Singh, chairman of the Janatantrik Mukti Morcha (JTMM) faction which broke away from Jai Krishna Goit, has said that the government should hold talks with a joint team of both the JTMM factions.

Talking to the Post over the telephone from an undisclosed location, Singh (Nagendra Pashwan) said, “If the seven parties can hold talks with the Maoists, why can’t the government talk to both of our factions?”

“I still consider Goit as my guide, but I don’t know why he tries to stay away,” Singh told the Post. “I want to carry him on my shoulder and take him along in the war to free the terai people.” He also denied rumors of his party threatening to disrupt the citizenship distribution and expressed his party’s commitment to helping in that task.

“We possess no differences over constituent assembly and citizenship distribution,” he said, adding, “But, we will tell people not to take citizenship certificates being distributed by Pahades (people hailing from the hilly region).”

The fact is there is no shortcut to gain respect. Teraibasis need to work hard, produce more intelligent professionals such as doctors or engineers, keep their towns safe and clean. If all the news they hear from Terai is about witches being fed faeces, or brides immolated due to dowry concern of in-laws, or grooms chosen in open market, how can members of another community genuinely respect that community? Sherpas who were considered inferior and dirty in the past now has earned enormous respect for themselves sheerly due to hardwork. When I went to Solukhumbu recently, I was so impressed with the region above Lukla that I told about it to everybody in my village. On the other hand, a villager of mine who went to Janakpur to work writes how ‘big’ Janakpur’s mosquitoes are, and how difficult it is to go to cyber cafe and write a brief email to me.

Terai has problems, issues, and it is time educated and brave Teraibasis take those issues courageously. Letting people like Goit, or Nidhi or Jwala Singh hijack these issues does no one good, prolongs the pain of Terai, and is harmful to the whole nation. It is important first to recognize that there are no constitutional discriminations against Terai anymore, and that we must work peacefully to break the remaining barriers.

Related blog:
JTMM Terror In Siraha