28 Aug - 3 Sep 2015 #773

Violence not solution

Rabindra Mishra interviews former kamlari and CA member Shanta Chaudhary in BBC Nepali, 25 August

BBC Nepali: You wrote on Facebook that innocent Tharus were used as a human shield in Tikapur to kill security personnel.

Yes, some people fished in troubled waters. They used the Tharus’ protest as an opportunity to settle their own scores. But Tharu leaders cannot get away saying that there were infiltrators. They should take moral responsibility. Whether there were infiltrators will be investigated later. They failed to keep the protests under control.

But isn’t it true that thousands of protesters brandishing axes, spears and guns were indeed Tharus? 

I don’t think they were there to kill anyone. I am not defending them just because I am a Tharu. I believe in issues of class, not ethnicity. But Tharus consider themselves as descendants of the Buddha, and I don’t think they can engage in such criminal activities. We should find out who used us and why. At a time when the new constitution is being written, it is natural for everyone to fight for their rights. But the country should be our foremost priority. If you burn your country down, you will be burning yourself. 

Do you support the demand for a Tharuhat province?

More than demanding a state, Tharus are fighting to be in one province. They do not want to be divided between two different provinces. 

As a Tharu, do you have a message to your community at a sensitive time like this?

We should exercise restraint. Violence is not the solution to our problems. Although the government tends to overlook peaceful protests, we should not resort to violence. We should not tarnish our image of being peace-loving and honest people.