Krishna Hari Pushkar, February 13, 2008
What is Madhes?
Madhesh refers to the Terai region specific to Nepal, approximately 25 to 35 km wide broad belt of alluvial and fertile land stretching from Mahakali river in the west to Mechi river in the east between Indian border in the south and Sivalik/Chure Range in the north. This belt accommodates almost 50% population of Nepal.
Who is Madhesi?
Madheshi is an identity of indigenous inhabitants of Madhesh who in general have distinct social, cultural, and physical structures than the people of Nepal with their origin other than Madhesh and the mother tongue of a Madheshi individual and his/her immediate descendant’s languages are, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Abadhi, Hindi, Bengali, Madwadi, Punjabi, Urdu, Tharu, Magadhi and is eligible to be a citizen of Nepal.
What is Madhes/Tarai Conflict?
It is a crucial ethnocentric war between State and Madhesi ethnic groups in Nepal. Currently, Madhes region of Nepal has been suffering with severe ethno- regional arm and unarmed insurgencies. The causes can be mentioned as crisis of identity, Inclusion, development, mainstreaming, self-determination, power-sharing, recognition, dignity and human rights.
What are the major ongoing issues/demands of Madhesis?
The basic demands of Madhesis are an adequate and respectful inclusion, proportional representation, rights of self determination, one Madhesh-one State, free from racial, social cultural, political and administrative discriminations, power sharing, Madhes governance and Madhes government etc.
Who are the major warrior parties/groups of Madhes?
More than two dozens of armed and unarmed warrior groups and parties are intensively active in Madhes. However, all parties/ groups and their demands are yet to be clearly identified. Though, the major identified arm insurgents are know as, Tarai Janatantric Tarai Mukti Morcha(JTMM: Goit), JTMM (Jwala Singh), JTMM (Bishfot Singh), Madhesi Mukti Morcha, Madhesi Tiger, Tarai Cobra Group, Madhes Mukti Force, Tarai Tiger, Madhes Army, AASK Group, TM Don group, Virus Clean Groups, Anti Terrorist group, Madhesi defence brigade etc. Some unarmed hardcore groups can be also listed as Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (MPRF), MPRF (Gupta/Biswas Group), Nepal Sadbhawana Party (Mahto group), Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP), etc and their various paramilitary sister organizations. Besides that some Madhesi based NGOS, Communities, and CBOs are also acting as warrior groups.
What are the major strategies/approaches of the warrior groups to fight against State?
There are two types of clear strategic guidelines of ongoing Madhes turmoil. The arm groups are adopting completely the same strategies taught by previous Maoist Insurgency and other civil political groups complies the similar strategies that were practised successfully during the Second Peoples’ Movement -2006.
Why did the Madhes issues just emerge now so violently and intensively?
It is just because of the faulty, autocratic and discriminative policies of interim parliament, interim government and the leaders of eight political parties. They behaved beyond the mandate of second people’s movement-2006 and tried to prove that the Interim government and parliament are the most powerful one who can fulfil and transform the entire issues and people’s ambitions except to change the man into women and women into men.
The major faulty and autocratic decisions can be listed as undemocratic way to declare secularism, dramatic abolition of monarchy, slapdash inclusion policy, dotty composition of Constitutional assembly, 8 leaders’ forceful slavery imposition on interim parliament and government etc.
An additional feeling they gave, “the entire legal-illegal, legitimate- illegitimate, democratic-undemocratic, rationale-irrational demands can be fulfilled by insurgency, movement and demonstrations or through terroristic approaches”.
Just now, Madhes reckoned the almost impossible demands of Maoist fulfilled by Insurgency, almost unattainable demands of seven parties’ alliance fulfilled by fierce people’s movement. So, the Madhes realised that they have to follow the similar root of Maoist and seven party alliances. Madhes also recognized transition is the right time.
Besides, of course Madhes is a most suppressed, discriminated, colonized, and far away from the political and administrative mainstream of Nepalese ruling politics, government and governances system since last 240 years. Almost all seem agree to realise that Madhes is suffering with crisis of inclusion and living as second class citizen in their own homeland. So, it is natural now to see the Madhes movement in the pick before the CA election.
Is there any relationship between ongoing Madhes Insurgency and CA election in Nepal?
Of course, there is a life-threatening relationship between the CA election and ongoing Madhes movement since Madhes is the home of apx 50% populations of Nepal. The experts conclude, democratically CA election is not possible and neither Nepal will be a complete nation without the political mainstreaming of Madhes. Now people started to ask, what will be the legitimacy of CA election and reverence of democracy, if the CA election holds without adequate participation of Madhesi? Is it possible to conduct CA election in ongoing terrorised and traumatic governmentless situation of Madhes? How will it possible to make success the forthcoming CA election without settling the issues of Madhes and improving the overall security and administrative affairs of Madhes?
Is it possible to resolve or settle the Madhes issue before to hold the CA election?
It seems possible if both parties (state and warrier/civil-arm groups) work honestly in favour of people and democracy. However, it is not an easy job in contemporary transitional perspective of Nepal. Madhesi groups alliances and government are ready for talk and negotiation and both want peaceful settlement of the crisis. However, some ruling parties’ politicians, Madhesi power centres and their strategies are being flawed towards Madhes crisis so the issue is turned into more complex and mysterious.
The Madhesis issues can be address by using special constitutional, parliamentary and cabinet efforts through “one door conflict management approach.” The State could negotiate and make clear that how and what could be possible to fulfill before and after CA election? It is also clear that the all process need special technical assistances and support from UNMIN.
Why did the dialogue and negotiation efforts and wills of both State and Madhesis groups still not materialise?
It is of course due to distrustfulness and ill capability of both parties. Absent of technical plan, strategy, and skill of conflict management especially in governmental side can be considered as a major one cause of the chaos. Partial influences of regressive forces, criminals and so called ancient opportunist Madhesi politicians are major obstruction of the dialogue and negotiation. Another cause could be the Huge and unidentified status of dozens of civil and arm warriors groups of Madhes.
There are no any specific legitimated leaders and parties who could lead and talk on behalf of whole Madhesi people. There are no similarities in demands, preconditions of talk and so on among warrier groups because Madhes movement is considered as a movement without specific leaders, parties and groups, it is totally impulsive.
In addition, Government is knowingly adopting faulty way to build a conducive environment for official dialogue. Just to say or invite them haphazardly for dialogue and negotiation without needy technical preparation is clearly proves the ill-intention and carelessness over the problem. In practices, it shown that our ruling mechanisms and parties just verbally offering for dialogue and negotiation through a meeting or public speech or media, ignoring the recently made experiences/practised module of procedural political mainstreaming ways of Maoist and without fulfilling and developing basic substructure .
Is the Involvement of International community obligatory to resolve the Madhes issues?
Of course, the Madhesi issues are directly concerned with social, political, economic, administrative, security, developmental and diplomatic affairs. To address the issues, Nepal Government need lots of money, technical assistances and diplomatic cooperation, especially from India since the entire major past political negotiations between State and Nepalese political/revolutionary groups conducted either in Indian ground or by influential intercession of Indian power. So it is crystal clear that we need positive interventional cooperation and much more assistances from International community to resolve the ongoing Madhes issues efficiently. In technical perspective, there could be also management issues of Madhesi guerrilla, arms/weapons, federal system, federal governances, positive discrimination, proportional representation, governance system, developments, redistribution policy, Human rights, self-determination etc and more that need lots of compulsory multi dimensional supports from International community.
Do the Madhesis need rights of self-determination which is being most disputable?
Yes, all people/groups should have rights of self-determination as per norms of legitimated human rights and applied concept of democracy. So, what is wrong if Madhesis want it? There are various schools of thoughts about the rights of self-determination, although single interpretation can not be carried out as concrete one. The research concluded that the Madhesi version of self-determination signifies a kind of improved version of powerful decentralisation which is not totally new concept even for Nepal, it can be also considered as improved and modified democratic version of previously introduced the regional and local decentralisation concept, local governance acts and polices. Madhesis do not want any disintegration; they want just their own parliament, executive, judiciary and administrative system as per motto and goal of democracy based on federal State structure system. It is justified and natural that has already proved and applied in the cases of US, Switzerland, Germany, and India etc. Hence, it is not unusual. However, the modality and design of self-determination should be formed to enable more the rank of the nationalism, national interests, harmony and integration of Nepal.
Another manipulated version is made and propaganda disseminated that self-determinations is a synonyms of disintegration/separation which is totally misleading and ridicules notion. It is a kind of continuation of constructive former colonial-feudalism strategy against Madhes. The logic behind such misleading conception is based on Kashmir case, and previous Indian experience (cases of Pakistan, Bangladesh etc), former Yugoslavia etc, which have totally different scenario and angle than Madhes issues and its’ postulated version for right of self determination.
Is really Madhesi want disintegration/Separation from Nepal?
No, not at all, majorities Madhesi people, arm and unarmed warrior groups have made already clear about the points that they do not want any disintegration or separation from Nepal. However, only one group Jantantri Mukti Morcha( Jawala Singh) declared Madhes as separate State but it is neither legitimated by Madhesi people nor clearly defined and extended by Jawala Singh as a strong precondition of dialogue, so experts say, the declaration is as a part of temporary aggression or frustration due to continuous blackguards Governmental behaviour towards the Madhes issues.
Is the Madhes issue a kind of Indian/Palace created disorder?
No-no, this is an absolutely constructed propaganda made by ruling parties and some elite autocratic feudal political characters who want to suppress and kills the democratic voices of Madhes, as justification one can check out the demands of Madhesis which is clearly defined and based on the globally legitimated norms of Human Rights, motto of federal structure based democracy, devolution, branded concept of Inclusion, recognition and identity and natural fundamental rights etc. However, partial political and diplomatic interest of India can not be avoided. Of course, there are also some influences from the hardcore Hindu fundamentalists groups and pro-monarchical politicians. In addition, some Indian criminal groups are also taking advantages from the Madhes disorder. Though, it is natural and indeed little percentages exist in any public movement and insurgency everywhere in the world. Therefore, such little negative aspect can not be translated whole Madhesh disordered as an Indian/Palace created strategy.
What is going wrong in ongoing Madhes movement?
There are several doubts and faults on the raised Madhesi issues. First of all, the definition of Madhes and Madhesi is neither defined officially by government nor by Madhesi political powers themselves. The little hidden involvement of regressive forces, Madhesi political opportunist, criminals and Hindu fundamentalist has made movement’s impression misleading and radical, which is beyond the true aspiration and shibboleth. For instance “one Madhes one, One prades/state” can not be technically feasible in anyways. Secondly, Madhesis groups are lacking unity on common agendas, faulty ways of movement and revolution and its’ efficiency in leaderships. Furthermore, the Madhesi movement is being implemented as disintegrative communal agenda and some hardcore Madhesi insurgents groups are intentionally treating and attacking on Madhes based non-Madhesi groups and their properties, people as enemy which is totally wrong and crime against humanity. Another principle erroneous is means of violence/am insurgency which can not be considered as a peaceful legitimated ways to achieve any democratic needs and rights. Regular bandh, strike and frequent attack on basic public service delivery wings and system are also ailing issues.
What could be the adhoc recommendation to address the ongoing Madhes crisis?
Despite of chaotically violent situation, this can be resolved using immediate ad-hoc peace building theories and some political first aid. Government should also immediately implement the commitments that were reached through various agreements and expressed commitments through national declaration. Consequently, Government must also form an immediate special ministerial committee with powerful delegated authority to materialise all declared public commitments with integrated decision (One-door) approach. Secondly, government should improve political representation through immediate political decisions and appointments on the basis of proportional demographic ratio. Thirdly, to increase the immediate Madheshi representation in civil service especially in security, administrative and diplomatic service, Government should develop a provision of internal intra-inter -service transfers provision to attract existing Madhesis official from technical services and other educated and eligible Madhesi human resources (government, teaching professionals….) by bringing some provisional recruitment process. Fourthly, one cannot operate efficiently and effectively administrative government through only Pahadi officials in Madhesh regions, so our government should immediately introduce a “community administrative governance system”; which would keep the local dwellers involved in the ownership and participation in local administration. The model should be like community police approach. Specially, Nepal government should also mainsail the recognition, identity and access of Madheshi in national and international spheres through applicative constitutional and legal provisions
(Author is a Peace and Conflict Management professional and associated with Ministry of Home Affairs Nepal Government)