Nepali Times Asian Paints
Nation
The janajatis are trying to replicate the tarai uprising, but can they?

J B PUN MAGAR



NEPALNEWS.COM

After the prime minister and the eight parties placated the restive plains, indigenous groups have now taken to the streets.

The government granted proportional representation based on population to the madhes, but the janajatis say this doesn't correctly represent their demographics. They also want ethnic-based federal units and a new national flag.

The Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) held a fake-khukuri procession in Kathmandu this week, shut down the Valley on Thursday, and has announced a series of crippling shutdowns across the country in the coming month.

"We will have strikes and we will also talk," said Pasang Sherpa who wants proportional representation to also reflect ethnicity, language, and geography.

Activist S S Thapa says although the number of seats for the madhesi people has increased, the legislature will still be dominated by high castes.

The first seed of dissent was planted when there was obvious hesitation in appointing janajati members to the interim constitution drafting committee. "Is the government waiting for us to take up arms to take us seriously?" asked rights activist Padma Ratna Tuladhar.

Just as a tarai faction of the Maoists broke away from the Maoists to undertake a militant movement, similar splits are already appearing among hill ethnic groups. "If these issues are not addressed, it is only a question of time before they go militant," says professor Krishna Khanal of Tribhuvan University.

But there are differences with the madhes uprising-hill ethnic groups are not ideologically united. Many of their traditional areas are now heterogenous with Magars living in Gurung regions and vice versa. Here is also a lack of strong central leadership among various janajati groups even though there is an effort to unite 12 janajati organisations under a political party called the Sanghiya Loktantrik Rastriya Manch.

The credibility of the Maoists has also been waning rapidly among the janajati groups. In fact the Maoists dissolved their ethnic autonomous regions, launched amidst great fanfare after entry into parliament and now stress "democratic centralism". Some Rai and Limbu groups have launched a splinter group in the name of Khambuwan. Pushpa Kamal Dahal has summoned Kirati leaders to convince them to stay on board, but dissent is growing at the grassroots.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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