Nepali Times
By The Way
Wounds that won't heal



In the last few weeks, distrust between Kathmandu's hill centric establishment and the small but resolute Madhesi constituency has been growing. What happened in the BBC Nepali Service studio last week could have been a coincidence, but it set off a fierce debate in the media.

The broadcast was followed by a backlash in Prashant Jha's article in The Kathmandu Post on 27 July, and a sharp rebuttal to it by Dhruba Nepal in Nagarik on 29 July.

In the interview, when Jitendra Sonal refused to conform to Nepali nationalism devoid of his Madhesi identity, host Rabindra Mishra asked him: "Would you put Madhesi interest before that of Nepal?" The way this question was put reflected the thought process of Kathmandu's hill community and summed up their position: you cannot be working in the national interest if you are working in the interest of Madhes. Mishra refused to acknowledge a significant remark made by Sonal, "The existence of Madhes is tied to the existence of Nepal".
Dipendra Jha of Democratic Freedom and Human Rights (DFHRI) sees a danger in the Kathmandu political establishment's hardened stance on the Madhes.

"This will only weaken the moderate position in Madhes and strengthen separatist tendencies," he says. Although instances of political violence has gone down in the Tarai, there is widespread proliferation of small arms indicating that politics is giving way to crime.

There is simmering frustration among the unemployed youth of the Madhes who can neither find a job in Nepal, nor can they any longer go across the border for fear of being called a "Maoist". They are told: "Yahaan kyo aate ho, tumhaara Prachanda khaana nahi deta hai tumko?" (Why are you here, doesn't your Prachanda feed you?)
On 10 June, local postman Dhirja Hatoo was brutally murdered by an armed assailant in Bara bordering Ghodasahan village. The police followed the suspect into the district of East Champaran in Bihar, but was shocked to find that the culprit was being felicitated by the local police as a 'Naxal killer'. Local rivalry along with greed for easy money in absence of a strong state presence has made the Madhes a fertile breeding ground for criminals.

The Madhes movement of the winter of 2007-8 was an eruption of grievances piled up from years of discrimination and being treated shabbily by the hill-dominated Nepali state. After the steam was let off, four years later the pressure is building up again.

"I collect trash from their bins, but I am treated worse than the trash I collect," a Madhesi garbage collector told me recently. "Ask them if they behave in the same way with the Pahaadi garbage man." He has no doubt in his mind that this is racism. What does being a "Nepali" mean to thousands like this garbage collector who are reminded everyday of being second class citizens in their own land?

The fact that we have two Madhesis as ceremonial heads of the state is not enough to convince us that we are a multicultural republic, because it cannot bridge the prejudice we hold against 'bhaiyyas'.

Bhim Rai from Morang writes to Nagarik in response to Dhruba Nepal's article: "Nepal is a land of people belonging to various nationalities living within a state. I belong to the Kirati community and have every right to assert my identity and be proud of it, and so does a Madhesi."

Madhesis are Nepalis, but they must be allowed to accept this on their own terms, not ones dictated by others.

Read also:
Maoist Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal, EDITORIAL
Won't take it lying down, ANURAG ACHARYA

1. who cares
only those who are nepalese are nepalese, those who are not nepalese are not nepalese?

they should either return to their country or should be sent to refugee camps in china, pakistan (we should make a deal with those countries- and take mutual benefit from those cheap labors- 75Rs per day labor, is not that how the most of the developed countries are developed?).

i can not tolerate blackmailing from non nepalese.

2. Kamdar

It wasnt bad in Kathmandu before BS 2050 because people from kathmandu know the importance of Madhesis, people of himalayan region who brring their jimbu and rugs to sell here. After this Maoist started thier fighting everybody had to come to kathmandu like it can hold everybody, since then we all changed our behaviour in viewing our fellow citizens. It brought racism here and have to look suspiciously on everybody you dont know. People are scared to talk to new people. I am feeling like every pahaida looks like Maoist to me if they approach me with bag i get scared they might be hiding pressure cooker bomb or  bharuwa bandook to shoot coz we live in Capital city thats how this divide started to come through  its worse now.

Anybody have another view ? 

3. K. K. Sharma

A factual article, focused only in Kathmandu. What about the plight of "Pahadis" in Terai. ? Why are they migrating out of Terai ? The Census 2011, is sure to reveal the migration trends. 

Yes, the wounds that will not heal, goes both ways. This will have a far reaching consequences for the country, no?

4. Pemma
Now you want a Madhesi prime minister too? Ever thought of going to Bihar?

5. Deepak Thapa

Only Kathmandu & people living in the Katmandu, is not represent entire to the Nepal.

Pahad & Madhes is united under Nepal. We should stop calling each other of their origin.

Otherwise fight/war defiantly erupted, if we are not lesion & country can be split piece by piece like old Baise Chou Bese Rajje.

You said Pahadi neta is dominated to the KTM & Political power,

I said pahadi does not bar, any one whoever & wherever he/she live they can rules the in the Capital.

Neta belong to Pahad does not feed free to any Pahadi.

If you think you feel unsecure/danger to people from Pahad & Madhes sensing to them Maoist.

Then you should start Pass port & visa to Pahadi & Madhesi.

You can rule KTM like Ranas who was transfer themselves from Swar to 3 Sarkar Royal.


6. Riaz Ansari
Mr. Acharya, honestly you raise a vaalid debate but please understand that the Nepali nationalism dominated by Paahadi mentality will never accept that the minorities have been wronged in this semi-feudal brahminical Kingdom turned Republic. All we are asking for is a little bit of respect and rather than acknowledging legitimate grievances, they vent their pseudo-nationalistic abuses at the colored population of Madhes. Remarks even in this comment board are nothing short of a racial slur. The post revolution Nepal might have ensured some laws in place to address this issue but the way people are treated in society cannot be ensured in legal sense. A civic sense has to prevail within the constituency that has so far been exclusionary in its practice, if only they have guts to accept it. It has to be about change in the mentality. And why just the Madhesis? Look at the way Dalits are treated in this country, look at the way women are treated here. If avoiding a legitimate debate by raising irrelevant controversy is the way it is going to be, i'm disappointed that people espousing such ideas are no better than the worthless leaders that unfortunately lead us. 
I am a Muslim from Nepal and am proud to be from this land, yet my identity has never been completely accepted within the framework of Nepali nationalism. Don't i have the right to say i have been wronged?  

7. Ranzana

Dear Mr. Acharya,

I read the article thoroughly. It seems that your intention in writing this colunm is good but it is rather based in one or two comments made by some so called leaders in media. As you have mentioned about the distrust in your opening line, the distrust is in the power sharing. I understand the issues of different groups but when we analyze those issues, one need to understand it from the depth not superficially and derailling the whole context. Going back to the power sharing, why the madheshi leaders only put forward their demand at last minute? where is the strategy to move forward with their geunine demands?

Talking about employment, its not only youths from madhesh we are behind to take up this opportunities. its the whole nation suffering. There are some sectors ie health and education where high number of madhesis have kind of monopoly in those sectors? Why the author didnt account on that? when the issues are raised, also raise some positive parts. The article should not be one sided potraying the negative parts. And there are reservations policy for madhesis in some agencies . Please go through those policies before writing sensitive article.

Talking about cross boarder issues- its not only madhesis who are humilitated or insulted its all nepalese they have to go through not only those verbal abuses but physical atrocities too.

the bitter truth is even the advocates of Madhesh -madhesi party are loosing their grip in their base. Go and talk to anyone in the terai region, you will be able to read the temperature.

And last but not the least, racism is a big word. the issue of madhesi and pahadi is not racial. dont understand why the author tries to potray that there is a racial discrimination in the country, Nepal.


8. Ranzana

Dear Acharya,

You try to raise the important issue but with wrong logics. The article is surfacial. After reading the article, I have some comments:


Its not only madhesi youth who are unemployed. A large pie of youths are deprived from employment opportunities. If you see the list of migrant workers who go abroad from work, there are equal number of youths from all caste and region. People from far western region cross the boarder to india for employment. Whole village is empty without male members. On the contrary, in some field ie health and teaching, the numbers of madhesi population is high in number. And the government of Nepal has also set out plans for madhesh. Some agencies have a clear guideline policy (through reservation ) in the recruitment of the Madhesi candidate. I wonder why this positive part is not included in your article.

Cross boarder humiliation:

The cross boarder entities does not ask specific question only to madhesis. Its rampant. The scores of humilitation and sometimes physical assault is to everyone despite the caste, region and group. The question about Prachanda feeding is funny.

Madhesi parties and leaders:

The parties who claimed themselves as a saviour of madhesh is worthtaking. where are their strategies to make their demand heard? why at the last minute they bring their issue? I suggest the writer to go to any terai districts and see the impact of these madhesi parties. From 2007 to date, the frustration of madhesi population towards their leaders is amounting high.


Racism is a big concept. the issue of madhesi is about the discrimination and under representation not the race. Race is different than caste and geography. MAdhesis are from the same race as so called pahadis are from. Aryans and they follow exactly the same religion as many pahadis ( except mongol) follows.

Who are pahadis? May be the author should be clear on defination.

Thank you.





9. DG
Tinna kisimko hawa pani, tina kisimko ani-bani,
Tina kisimko sakti bichara,rastra chha tara eaka apara.
Bhinnai hos tyo hawapani,bhinnai hos tyo anibani,Bhinnai hos tyo boli-chali,tapani hami sab Nepali.
Kohi katima patuka badhos,kohi sirama feta bandhos,Kohi bhangra gados kohi.bastab hami sab Nepali.
Jasaka kulako jasto dharma,tehimafikako tesako karma,
Chhaina kasaiko ninda gali,bastaba hami sab Nepali.
Kabisiromani wrote these lines in his poems of 50 stanzas. It will be good to recall  those lines at this juncture.

10. Ram Prasad Yadav
Nepal is a racist country, period.  This is because the leaders of Nepal up to this day have been ignorant, corrupt, evil minded, communal, uneducated, and definitely without vision and lacking the most basic component of a human, i.e.,  Compassion.  The Bahuns are the most racist group in Nepal. They want to dominate every one and everything.  Things will change. More and more people from various ethnic community are getting a good education as well as earning good money in foreign lands. More and more people are now using their God given talents to prosper and advance. Its may be a slow start but its at least a start.  So Bahuns of Nepal, be on the look out, in the Good Book, it says, " a man who lives by a sword will also die by a sword.          

11. jange
Let's put a clause in the constitution- All those with a chip on their shoulder are entitled to ....

12. Paramita
Anurag your writing is well appreciated and thank you for bringing this out loud and clear.

13. Pragyan

I think this article targets the core social issue in our society but the term "Racism" is used very unappropriately in this article. We all belong to the same race, however there are various ethinicities and so on. Yes, i agree that diverse groups of people have to face tremendous amount of mistreatment based on the social context of Nepal but it  is wrong to call that racism. Racisim is more than just being a different skin color. What madhesis and other minority groups in Nepal are facing is called exclusion, discrimination  and oppression.

The last thing we want is someone diving the nepalese people into seperate categories of races.


"Ask them if they behave in the same way with the Pahaadi garbage man." He has no doubt in his mind that this is racism. What does being a "Nepali" mean to thousands like this garbage collector who are reminded everyday of being second class citizens in their own land?



14. nepali sathi

Thought provking article.

15. sohan
Really, nice one .

16. sunil
Can you show me any country which has multi racial society is not racial. Even you find so many racial voilence in USA. It is a  complete utopia having to say that no one should be raciest. Even a black support to a black football team even that team does not belongs to his country. It is a natural phenomenon that in animal planet every animal lives in his community. So if want to live in harmony way with better relation then is better that Madhesi community should live in Madesh and pahadi community in Pahad. when we have seperate kitchen then chances of better relation is high. BUT these Madhesi leader and intellectuals are living in Ktm but doing politics for |Madhes. WHY DON 'T THEY MIGRATES  BACK TO MADHES AND DOES POLITICS THERE? 

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)