Nepali Times
By The Way
No war, no peace


Lu 1 Kha 3666 Minibus that suffered the bomb explosion in Butwal
In recent days, the violence in the Tarai has reached alarming levels. While individual assassinations and kidnappings continue, unarmed civilians are now being targeted in public places with the intention of causing maximum human casualties. The blast in Rupandehi once again brought back the horrifying memories of Madi, when a passenger bus carrying 150 people was bombed by the Maoists in 2005, killing 38 innocent people.

The years following the Madhes movement have certainly brought a qualitative difference to the lives of Madhesis. But living in the Madhes is becoming a dangerous affair. The state has simply failed take any concrete action to protect the lives and the property of its citizens. The prolonged absence of the state in the Tarai districts has left the people at the mercy of armed groups, who openly extort, kidnap and kill civilians, all in the name of the Madhes and its people.

However, the recurring blasts in the Tarai cannot just be seen as an act of terror by armed outfits operating with supposed 'political agendas'. There is an element of political apathy towards the violence in the region that considers package bargaining at the top as the only solution. This approach completely overlooks the geopolitical vulnerability that people in the Tarai districts face in the form of an open border.

It is quite ironic that New Delhi has been pressuring Kathmandu to curb 'anti-Indian' activities on its soil while incidents of violence continue on the Nepali side of the border. There is enough evidence to point at armed groups operating from across the border. But add to this the ongoing issues of encroachment, and it becomes clear that Tarai insecurity has to be addressed at the diplomatic level and not just as an internal security issue.

Madhesi leaders in Kathmandu are busy deriving political mileage from the instability in the Madhes rather than working with the government to improve security in the region. Not one leader has expressed concern at the deteriorating security situation in the Tarai districts. Some are negotiating portfolios in the government, while others are angry at being left out, but no one seems concerned at the continued loss of life in the Tarai.

There is growing resentment among the Madhesi population, which feels that the Madhes has become the victim of national and international politics. After all, the surge in violence so soon after Bijay Kumar Gachchadar and Rajendra Mahato spoke of alienation and warned of dire consequences can hardly be a coincidence, particularly following the duo's Delhi visit. People have every reason to suspect foul play through collusion with militant groups.

Politics in Nepal has always been tainted by betrayals and reprisals. But seldom before has civilian life been so dispensable. People are dying in the Tarai because of political games at the top. How many more will have to die before they say enough is enough?

Read also:
Behind the Headline, ANURAG ACHARYA

1. jange

If Maoist violence is acceptable and praiseworthy why not the violence of others? If the fruits of Maoist violence are acceptable and desirable why no the violence of others?

Until these questions are answered honestly and appropriate action taken the violence will continue.

Sad, but true.

2. Sick and tired
"Politics in Nepal has always been tainted by betrayals and reprisals. But seldom before has civilian life been so dispensable. People are dying in the Tarai because of political games at the top. How many more will have to die before they say enough is enough?"

I always find it astounding, and I know I am wrong in thinking this way but I can't help it, that journalists and politicians are creatures living in a parallel universe.

Most people have never taken an interest in this type of political nonsense and you are deluding yourself if you think that life in Madhes has become 'qualitatively' or in any other way, better because of the 2007 agitation.

The situation, not just in Madhes but everywhere in Nepal, has got so confusing that you can't make up your mind on what to talk, complain, have a view on, or worry about.

Who is opposing whom, who is behind what atrocity, whom to trust? What do politicians want, what do the people want, how is it that all of this politics is driven by the dimmest characters, backed by the sharpest tongues, and what do they each want? 

Who is evil, and where exactly is the good holidaying?

In all of this nonsense, I am kind of at an edge? Where are we, and how did we land here, and since we have landed here, which destination are we off to?

Gaaaaaah, I am really, pathetically lost. I simply can't articulate a thing anymore. So much pathetic dumbness, people praising ambiguity, mixing up ideas. I wonder if all of you journalists are having fun? If yes, can I also go to your party, please?

In all of this, I wonder, where are the people who chased away families? Where are the people who decapitated that inspector in Biratnagar (or was it Janakpur)? I wonder if they had fun doing it!! I wonder if they are laughing at their achievements now?

3. Chandra Gurung
Such an article would have carried more weight had it been written by a Madhesi.

4. Bikas Bahutule

Although entire land of Madhes was covered in thick forest until 1950, continuous migration enforced by population pressure gradually began cultivation. King Mahendra adopted policy of cultivating Madhes and even invited people of Nepalese origin living in Myanmar and offered them land here. In a short span of forty years, the region overcrowded resulting from the migration both from north (Nepali hills) and south (Indian states of Bihar and UP) . Migration from the South stopped only after the government of Nepal adopted policy of land registration in 1975 on the basis of citizenship. Those who had been able to clear the forest themselves were made the rightful owners of the land they cultivated. Whoever owned land was offered citizenship (for one time) to legalize the living.

The definition of the state border was not always clear with the Hindu kings, scattered in the multiple kingdoms, who sought more tenants in their territorial oversight for more tithes and taxes. Farmers living in a certain area changed their nationalities the way they paid taxes to a particular king. Sometimes a farmer in a remote area paid tax to the king near to him and at times was forced to pay to the other king. It was his tax duty that determined his nationality irrelevant to what territory he lived in. It was more true with the southern plains where people hardly travelled from the hills out of the fear of malaria. Therefore, Nepal's southern border was never demarcated until the the Treaty of Sugauli (1815) was signed between Nepal and British-India. Even though the treaty recognized certain portion of the plain Gangetic land as the part of Nepalese territory, marking of Nepalese southern border didn't take place at one go. According to Buddhi Narayan Shrestha, the border expert of Nepal, it was rather completed through intermittent processes with long intervals beginning from 1815 to 1963. All older maps of Nepal showed tentative borders in the south which both nations had agreed.

The population of Terai is largely mixed. The people who natively speak non-Nepali languages, some sharing indigenous connections with the land of Madhes (Like Tharus of the west and Dhimal, Satar, Meche etc of the east) and many others with remarkable cross -border socio-economic ties with India claim themselves as authentic madhesi although the term broadly means 'the resident of madhes region'. There exists a difference of opinion of the Tharus and other indigenous population over this identity with the middle- terai population that dominates current Madhesi politics.

The history of identity politics in the madhes of Nepal is as old as the region's cultivation. Once Nepal entered the stage of open democracy in 1950, a regional political party, namely Terai Congress, was established. However the party could not show its presence in the elections of 1960; Nepali Congress swept away all constituencies of the region.

After the restoration of democracy in 1990, Gajendra Narayan Singh established another terai based party under the name of "Nepal Sadbhawana Party" and won six seats in the subsequent general election of 1992. But the party soon fell victim of own divisions.

The strongest agitation for the madehsi identity took place in 2007 and 2008. Under the leadership of newly established Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) in the late 2007, the movement initially drew government attention and some grievances were redressed. But the year of 2008, after the Interim Constitution refrained from saying federalism in place of state restructuring, saw a brief but one of the most ruthless uprisings in any period of Nepalese history. A combination of three political parties-- Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), Terai Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP), Nepal Sadbhawana Party (NSP)-- demanding the Madhesi rights wreaked havoc in the eastern and central Terai region of the country. As many as fifty people lost their lives, hundreds of them lost their properties and many others were injured. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala signed an eight- point agreement with the Madhesi leaders which explicitly accepted a federal Nepal, reservation for madhesi people in all jobs, and a recognition of the Madhesi identity above all.

However, after the election of the Constituent Assembly (CA), all Madhes-based parties broke into many pieces. MJF is divided in two equal halves. The breakaway faction led by Bijaya Kumar Gachchadar, named MJF- Democratic, joined the government in 2009 and received at least one ministry for 20 of its members out of 28, himself as the powerful Deputy Prime Minister. MJF-D was also split in January 2011 and one of the ministers formed a new party called Madhes Kranti Forum (MKF).

TMDP has recently broken as eleven of its CA members are organized under new faction TMDP-Nepal, which became the 28th party in the CA.

The worst of the splits was in store for NSP. Many of its influential leaders had joined TMDP way back in 2008. Still there are five different NSPs claiming themselves of being the original. The largest group led by Rajendra Mahato has 9 members in the Constituent Assembly.

Owing to the division of the parties, control of high caste Madhesis in the leadership and more obviously the ubiquitous lust for power and money of the Madhesi leaders, the movement has lost its momentum. Among all Madhes- based regional parties, Upendra Yadav's MJF looks stronger.

There is a strong sense of mistrust, among the madhesi constituencies, about the actual political position of the Madhesi parties. The demand of "One Madhes: One Province" was the mainstay of their political agitation in 2008. But they have agreed to have two to three Madhes provinces after the series of dialogues with other stakeholders of state restructuring. The demands of reservations for the entry in government services have been fulfilled but the advantages are largely going to the high caste Madhesis who had already received sizeable share in Kathmandu's so-called establishment. Therefore, the Madhesi backward groups are disillusioned with the sloganeering of madhesi rights, where as other groups of the loose alliance are frustrated at the corruption, division and lust for power of the Madhesi leaders. The indigenous madhesi people are organized under the Tharuhat movement led by Laxaman Tharu, who claims of standing against the monopolistic and feudal character of the Madhesi leaders. Tharuhat movement, through its 2009 agitation, greatly curtailed the sphere of the mainstream madhesi parties contracting it within the five districts of central Terai region (Siraha, Saptari, Dhanusha, Sarlahi, Mahottari), and rendering it severe blow in the west. The districts east of the Koshi river, leaving some parts of Sunsari and Morang in exception, had little impact of the movement in the first place.

However, everyone agrees, notwithstanding the despise towards the Madhesi parties, that federalism in ethnic/regional line offers solution to the existing disparities, despite their ignorance on how the problems may really be solved. The agenda has been planted in the mindset of the people so deep that a backtrack may just work a serious flashpoint to begin yet another agitation.

5. kamal kishor
Let us not forget that it was started by the Maoists. They planted the seed of violence, nurtured for 5 years and now the fruits of violence is being reaped by others most probably gangsters from India. It is the same situation every where in Nepal including Kathmandu. All the major centers have become pray to gangsters either belonging to the Maoists or others. The only way out of this anarchy is to defeat all those whose philosophy is based on violence. 

Unfortunately the voice of civil society is mute. Are they feeling guilt that they were the ones who believed and make others believe that the Maoists have changed to civilian folds?

6. Cynic
If there is anything positive that has come out of all the debates and writings and events is to reveal the hollowness of Nepal's intellectuals and politicians.

Each likes to tell us what is wrong with "us". We are Hindu's only if we stop being so we will have development. We have 'neglected nationalities', thats why there is violence. We have to work towards creating a 'social democratic' order. The business community must 'work on an image makeover by writing white-papers'. Our society needs to change. And so on. 

My favourite being 'you are a feudalist' and all those who oppose me don't care about 'the people' which excludes, the business community, salaried workers who are already better off, the religious, the family oriented, the bureaucrats, and all other 'people' who oppose me. Other than when I am writing in favour of bureaucrats, the salaried, and so on.....

The thing that is happening, has happened and will continue to happen is this. 

The people who write and go on to have a political life (and are always from the privileged lot), want to fill space and garner votes by writing about anything and talking about everything other than the truth.

Nepal is a lost case, no amount of arguing, intellectualizing or what have you, will save this country.

7. Krishna
War is very broad word and peace is entirely product of cool and justified social structure. In last two decade scenario changes in all over Nepal like
premature birth of a baby.obviously open border and selfish attitude of arm groups, protection by influential politicians and corrupt administration are responsible for pitiable condition of Terai.where no leader has yet recognized even President or VP.Shame for Nepali politician.

8. Jbshew

The violance is not the solution. It is obvious that not everyone thinks in the interest in the country and society. In the country like ours and this situation outsiders tend to take advantage by creating internal conflict.

@ jange--- There must be some incident which made u think like this. but these kind of thinking is not in the benefit of the country and neither the people(If you are a Nepali). This is the thinking which outsiders want to develop within us and if we think this way it will be their victory.

@ chandra Gurung--- I really agree with you. It would be appreciated if someone with medhasi teritory share what they actually feel. Are they facing any problem with the current conflict and if the conflict is in the interest of the society and country.

We are all brothers and sisters wherever we live. so make a win win situation where no one will be a loser.


(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)