40 killed and a 1000 injured in clashes so far
Madhesis and Maoists abduct one another: Phase 2
By Manuwant Choudhary
“If democratic demands like proportional representation at all levels are not accepted then Nepal’s secessionist violent forces could take over the Madhesi movement and demand full independence,’’ says Mr. Ram Kumar Sharma, general secretary, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum.
Speaking over telephone from Nepal Mr. Sharma said while the movement is happy with the Nepal government accepting a federal structure for Nepal it is only one stop towards real democracy for half of Nepal’s disadvantaged population. “The Maoists took our help but now when they are a part of the government they have forgotten about our genuine cause.”
He said, “Two of the powerful Maoist factions Jwala Singh and Jai Krishna Goyit groups under Terai Jantantrik Mukti Morcha are already demanding full independence. What we are demanding is only statehood that is economically viable and not what politicians in Kathmandu are trying to do. They are making states combining the hill and plain areas only to weaken the terai people politically and economically.”
Basically, Nepal is up for grabs.
Maoists who after waging a ten year violent revolt have found a place in the interim government and have a say in the formation of states, Madhesis (people living in the terai region) have no say.
Its quite ironical since the Madhesi’s have played an important role in the democratic movement since the 60s and now when the royal power is at its nadir they still have not had their demands met. Says Mr. Sharma, “The earlier Madhesi leaders in movements for democracy only demanded Hindi as a language, wearing of dhoti-kurta as their cultural rights and citizenship as their political right. But that did not solve our problems.”
And this movement is growing. “In the movement for democracy 23 people were killed but in the Madhesis movement already 40 people have been killed and a thousand injured.”
The facts are in fact quite astonishing for a nation where the democractic movement is 50 years old.
According to the 2001 population census Nepal’s total population is 2 crore 34 lakhs of which 43 per cent are Madhesis. Madhesis however say their population is 55 per cent of the total poulation but the next population census will only be in 2011.
The Madhesis as a people have all along supported the movement for democracy in Nepal and some key leaders of the Maoists were also from the Madhesis and it was natural to assume that once the King was gone and the Maosists became a part of the Nepal government and an interim constitution came into being the Madhesis would get their rightful place under the sun.
But that was not to be.
Madhesis say they contribute 60 per cent of the revenue but only 23 per cent are spent in the terai region as of the total 75 districts in Nepal only 20 are in the terai region.
There are no Madhesis – not even a single soldier – in the Nepal army.
In the Nepal police in 75 districts there is not a single Madhesi Superintendant of Police.
None of Nepal’s ambassadors are Madhesi.
No Madhesi even at the secretary level.
Currently there are 205 parliamentary seats, of them 80 seats are in terai. Of the 80 seats 40 seats have gone to Madhesis while 40 to others which include prominent politicians like Nepal’s prime minister Grija Prasad Koirala and Nepal Communist Party (Ekikrit ML) Madhav Nepal.
Even the Maoists joining the democratic mainstream is being questioned since only 3,400 weapons have been surrendered before the UN representative mostly those looted from the police and army while there were 30,000 armed Maoists.
The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum is not a political party but a movement and it has five demands namely proportional representation in Nepal’s parliament and not first past the post system, full autonomy for the new states, proportional representation in jobs, electoral reforms and a Republic.