Monday, January 29, 2007

The Ball Is In Girija's Court: A Response To Pramod Kantha

For Pramod Kantha, a personal friend, an active member of ANTA, and otherwise a vocal proponent of Madhesi rights, to suggest that somehow the mistake being made is in the style of the Madhesi Movement blows in the face of the Madhesi Movement.

I will be the first to admit the Madhesi Movement has not been neat and clean. I wish the protestors marched in the streets, and never on the sidewalks. I wish they started at 10 in the morning, and not five minutes earlier. I wish they ended at 5 PM, and not five minutes earlier. I wish kurta pyjama were mandatory for every protestor. I wish they had formed lines, rows of three. I wish they had marched to the tune of some music band, to drumbeats. I wish they had all chanted about five basic slogans approved by the Madhesi Movement Coordination Committee, something that does not exist.

But this is a time to take sides. Either you are with the Madhesi Movement or you are against. This is not a time to dillydally. The Pahadi establishment has not changed one bit. They continue to look for Madhesis who will hurt the Madhesi Movement. Temporarily they seem to have found one in Pramod Kantha, I am sorry to say.

There have been a few cases of arson, sure. A few buildings have been vandalized. But I did not hear Pramod Kantha protest the same in Nepalgunj the last week of December. And there is a difference. When the state unleashes state terror, when the state breaks the law, when the state actors participate in a racist mob attack, that is a whole different ball game. That is a double crime.

How many Madhesis has the Pahadi police killed? How many hundreds have been injured? Does Pramod Kantha know? I get daily reports from Janakpur of bullets strewn on the streets of Janakpur? Bullets of the Pahadi police fired on the Madhesi protestors. Jalliabala Bagh mein bhi yahi huwa tha. Is Pramod Kantha aware of this?

I am against violence. The state violence has to stop. I am against violence. The Maoist violence has to stop. And I urge the Madhesi activists to make extra effort to make sure all our acts are non-violent, which has been the case for 99.9999% of the time.

But to preach violence to the Madhesi Movement is to preach honesty to the theft victim. Look the other way. It is the Pahadi police that has been firing the bullets.

It took 19 days for Gyane to see the light. It has been over a week, and the Pahadis like MaKuNe and Girija and Prachanda and Deuba are nowhere close to seeing the light.

Was the April Revolution violent? Then the Madhesi Movement is violent too. Was the April Revolution disturbing? Then the Madhesi Movement is disturbing too.

Before the April Revolution, 1% of the country ruled over the other 99%. After the April Revolution, 20% of the country has ruled over the other 80%.

Before the Madhesi Movement 20% of the country has ruled over the other 80%. The Madhesi Movement will change that.

The Madhesi Movement invited the Dalit, the Janajati and the Mahila to join the Movement.

Gagan Thapa On The Terai
Anand Jha: Raising Dust At SEBS
Need For A Mahila Movement
ANTA Press Release: Stop The State Terror
Stop The Shooting, Give The Speech
Feedback, NSU, USA Canada Chapter Press Release
डटे रहो
Ram Sah, Ratan Jha, Lalit Jha, Pramod Kantha: Madhesi Diaspora, Pahadi Diaspora
Why Are The Pahadis Quiet?
Girija, Give A Speech Like Gyane Did In April
Stop Shooting, Give Concession Speech, Calm Down The Streets
8 Parties Need To Declare 205 Constituencies Of Equal Population
Madhesi Movement Is April Revolution Part 2
Look Who Is Talking
Girija Koirala Is A Crook
Anand Jha: Slugging It Out At SEBS
My Role In The April Revolution: The Butterfly Effect
Typhoid And Typhoid Victims
Madhesi Alert, Nepalgunj Pahadi Attack On Madhesi, Raw Email, Video Footage

Madhesi Empowerment Is Possible Through Peaceful Route

The best course for the people of Terai to resolve their grievances is that of negotiation and reconciliation.

By Pramod K. Kantha

Pramod K. KanthaThe marginalized status of the people of Terai is visible everywhere in Nepal as well as abroad. The ongoing agitation in the Terai region should not surprise any one. It has been long overdue and one should be grateful for the patience with which the Terains have endured the flagrant violation of their basic citizenship rights and denial of their basic human rights through systematic and institutionalized discrimination by the state. Defensive reaction to what is happening there will not be helpful. Dismissing the demands of the Teraians as being externally driven and inspired by misguided elements will also be only counterproductive. Instead, the national leaders (unfortunately, all of them are Pahadis!) must demonstrate their sincere appreciation of the aggrieved feelings of the people of Terai region and reassure them of their sincerity to work to resolve the underlying problems. The psychic disconnect can not be bridged without sincerity and commitment. The onus is on the national leaders to prove that this can happen.

I remain convinced that the best course for the people of Terai to resolve their grievances is that of negotiation and reconciliation. Violence will only widen the gap between the Pahadis and Madhesis leaving both the communities poorer and more anguished. Nepal has just started its journey away from the decade long trauma and devastation caused by violent course. Continuing disorder and violence will also allow room to those driven by their vested interests to aggravate the situation and advance their nefarious ends. At this critical juncture, Terai is, indeed, the soft underbelly of the ongoing political transition in Nepal. Continuing chaos and disorder

in the region can truly jeopardize the peace process that has made remarkable progress over the past year. Every Nepali has a serious stake in making sure that the country completes the ongoing transition to full fledged democracy that embodies freedom and the rule of law as the guiding principles. The plight of Madhesis today is a direct result of decades of malignant political practices perpetuated by an autocratic regime. No one needs democracy more than people who have been traditionally oppressed and marginalized. One has just to look across the border at India to see the difference that democracy can make. One would not be that far off the wall in suggesting that even the current political assertiveness of the Terai people is made possible by the political opening obtained by the April revolution and consequent peace process.

Unfortunately, the unrest in the Terai reinforces the adage that squeaking wheels get the grease. In that sense, one can understand the pleasant tickle that many Teraians feel at the attention that the protests are drawing to the genuine but long neglected grievances of Madhesis. Within months, if not weeks, the Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) has risen into national and international limelight. It does have a lot of work to do. However, people of Terai should not expect overnight transformation of realities on the ground. The leaders of ongoing political transition deserve benefit of doubt and one should take their pledges to address the grievances of Terai people sincerely and allow them to demonstrate through their action that they mean what they say. The MPRF and the two factions of the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) should immediately join the government leaders in finding a peaceful way out. The people of Terai must show their fitness for democracy by pursuing a peaceful and persistent course of action to achieve their objectives. In return, the government must refrain from using force against peaceful protests lead the process of change.

Nepal’s political leadership has recently shown remarkable astuteness in the art of accommodation and reconciliation. With respect to Terai, however, the learning curve leaves a lot to be desired. The people of this region have not been taken into confidence during the ongoing transition and they remain outside the mainstream of Nepali politics.

The Nepali state, including the police, the army and the political leadership of all major political parties are in dire need of what could be called “extreme makeover.” They need to look more like Nepal and reflect its diversity. Populated overwhelmingly by the same kind of people connected with each other with multiple reinforcing bonds of caste, kinship and shared privileged status, the higher echelons of government and political leaders of Nepal will find it hard to overcome deep seated doubts by “others” over their neutrality and sincerity.

Yet, sincere efforts must be made to achieve order and democracy. The challenge is a daunting one and the failure to tackle it will be disastrous. The charges of complicity of security forces in perpetrating deliberate brutalities against the Madhesis in Nepalganj must be investigated fairly and the report must be made public. The government must severely punish those responsible to deter such future behavior. The same should be done for other situations (Lahan, Janakpur etc). Nepali leaders should also live by their own democratic profession and accept population as the basis of representation; it is people that need to be represented not mountains and trees. National political parties must field candidates whose ethnic, cultural and linguistic profiles closely represent their constituency. All the demands of the Terai people must be given fair consideration.

(The author is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, USA. Can be reached at

In The News

Eight parties discuss Terai crisis: Tuesday’s meeting to come up with 'create decisions' NepalNews "The need at the moment," he said, "is to rise above the caste and regional lines and live in harmony." “More than Pahades (hilly people) and Madhesis, we are Nepalis.” ..... the concerns over continuous attacks on government installations, houses of political leaders and independent media by the protesters ..... the decisions of the meeting of the UML Standing Committee ...... condemned the violence and stressed that the crisis should be resolved through dialogue ....... has claimed seven lives till date. ...... the demand to amend the interim constitution to incorporate proportional electoral system on the basis of population for the upcoming constituent assembly polls and a federal system.
Terai situation will be under control within few days, says Home Minister
Tripathy resigns amid Terai crisis Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Hridayesh Tripathy, on Monday, tendered his resignation to the Prime Minister through chief secretary Dr. Bhoj Raj Ghimire ....... Tripathy is a general secretary of Nepal Sadbhavana Party (NSP-Anandidevi), which had already petitioned to the PM threatening to pull out from the government unless the latter fulfilled the genuine demands of Terai protesters. ...... the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) has been launching protests since last two weeks demanding amendment in the interim constitution to usher in federal structure of state as well as delimitation of electoral constituencies based on population. ....... The NSP-A, too, had noted down its note of dissent on these agenda when the interim constitution was promulgated.
Janakpur, Birgunj and Kalaiya under curfew The administration in Janakpur has announced 8 am till 9 pm curfew on Monday. Reports say protests are still going on in Janakpur. There were also said to be overnight protests there. ..... Demonstrations are also being held in parts of Mahottari
Terai unrest derails business and trade
Media under attack in Terai unrest
Madhesi Empowerment Is Possible Through Peaceful Route
Ministers, MPs to petition to the PM to fulfill Terai demands 53 MPs of the interim parliament representing the Terai region are going to submit their joint petition to the Prime Minister asking him to fulfill genuine demands of Madhesi people. ....... four ministers in the current cabinet who represent the Terai region – Hridayesh Tripathy, Mahantha Thakur, Prabhu Narayan Chaudhary and Dharma Nath Shah – have asked the PM to amend the interim constitution to address the demands of Madhesi people. ...... signatories including deputy Speaker Chitra Lekha Yadav and MPs Bharat Bimal Yadav, Matrika Prasad Yadav and Bijaya Gachhadar ...... have asked the PM to take initiatives to restructure the state on federal basis and reconstitute electoral constituencies based on population.
Eight-party meeting in afternoon to discuss Terai issue

Bam Dev Gautam, Sudip Pathak and Kishor Kumar Bishwas speaking at an interaction program

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