Born in Saptari district, Chandra Kant Raut is an electronic engineer and winner of national awards like the Young Engineer Award, Mahendra Bidya Bhusan and Kul Ratna Gold Medal. He studied electronic engineering at Institute of Engineering, Pulchok, and also worked there before leaving because of an internal feud. Raut then went to Japan for further studies under the Monbusho Scholarship.
When he visited Nepal in 2004, Raut left home dressed like an ascetic, wandering to Calcutta, Chennai, Kanyakumari, Madurai, Bangalore, Rameswaram, Puttaparti in India, and claimed to have found enlightenment during the journey. A month later he returned to Japan and fell sick towards the end of his studies, but successfully defended his thesis from a wheelchair. Next, he went to Cambridge for a PhD.
Raut first came to Kathmandu during the ‘Hrithik Roshan’ scandal when anti-India sentiments had erupted with targeted violence against ‘Indian-looking’ people. As Raut left for Japan, 13 Nepali workers were killed by terrorists in Iraq and there were palace-sponsored riots in Kathmandu. Raut took both incidents as proof of the suppression of Madhesis.
In 2006, when Raut was back in Nepal, the Madhes uprising had just begun. He and his friends quickly established the Alliance for Rights and Independence of Madhes, an NGO that had secessionist ideals.
ARIM’s aim was ‘ending Nepali colonialism and racism to establish an independent republican Madhes for the rights of Madhesis’. It had come up with a new flag, new boundaries, and a new national anthem for the proposed country. Mainstream Madhesi politicians also partnered with ARIM for mutual benefit.
Raut then began to write articles under the pseudonyms of Biwashwan Kumar, Azad, and Injod. His expertise in computer engineering gave him the knowhow to hack into Nepal-related networks and collect hundreds and thousands of emails, which he would then spam with postings.
In 2009, Raut went to work for BBN Technologies in the USA, where he also established and chaired a Madhes diaspora group. From America he returned to Nepal to travel from Mechi to Mahakali with friends from the ARIM. He wrote of his experience, ‘Pahadis are more desperate than ever to colonise the Madhes, discriminate against its residents, and indulge in crimes against humanity.”
After this journey he developed secessionist ambitions. His autobiography is contemptuous of the Nepali state: ‘They preach to us about Mother Nepal and how we have to protect its purity and innocence. But I say Nepal is not our mother, it is a witch that sucks our blood and grabs our land and rights and keeps us enslaved, in poverty, and injustice. the Madhes is our mother, it gives us land and food, and will take care of our remains when we die. People say the Madhes will be a very small country, but there are more than a hundred countries whose area and population is smaller. In every way, the Madhes has a glorious future.’
Raut also mentions armed revolt in his autobiography, saying peace didn’t work to convince the Nepali establishment of the ambitions of Madhesis.
‘If taking an eye for an eye makes everyone blind, it is better that the evil are blinded. At least this will mean everyone is equal. If they remain powerful, they will strangle you as you turn the other cheek. Aggression has to be beaten out of them.’
In his book Madhes Swaraj (Madhes Self-rule), Raut writes in Hindi why the Madhes has to be separate from Nepal. He rejects courts, protests, government and constitution writing and wants a homegrown army.
‘We need our own army to end our slavery. Rules, laws, management, constitution have no meaning until there are guns to enforce them,’ he writes, ‘the constitution belongs to those who have soldiers, because it can be changed any time with the help of the army. Nepal’s constitution changes every 10-15 years. How long do you think such laws will favour Madhesis?’
In this book, Raut first talks of preparing for self-rule through peaceful means – awareness, youth wings, and voluntary police. If this doesn’t work, he wants to block roads and use paramilitary force. There is also talk of registering the country in the UN to guarantee international support. All this, he says, may take more than 10 years.