Rallying for Madhesi-Pahadi Good Feelings
Nepal Government & one of the scores of armed groups in Nepal Terai, the Madhesi Virus Killers(MVK) began their formal dialogue from yesterday. While the MVK agreed to hold a cease fire during the talks, the government conceded for treating the armed outfit as a political organization. The MVK forwarded its demands for an autonomous Terai region under the federal structure expected to be designed & implemented by the Constitution Assembly.
India: Psychosocial Background of Madhesi Pahadi conflict
A strong pride inhabits among all Nepalis that they were the only people in the world history who were never colonized by any foreign force. The great pride reduced into “a yam between two giant boulders” has created strong concern among the “nationalist” forces that Indian “expansionist” forces are intent upon Sikkimization of Nepal. The threat of Indian expansionism seems to be rooted deep in the minds of the mountain or hill people. The national paranoia is generally expressed with a phrase in Nepali – India le Nepal Khancha – which can be literally translated as India will gobble up Nepal.
Besides, hundreds of thousands of Nepali hill people work as security guards & other menial workforce in India towns & cities. The plight of Nepalis as “Bahadurs” at the hands of their Indian employers & derogation of their family name has further fueled anti-India feelings. “Bahadur” literally means a brave person, which Nepalis traditionally use as a middle name to denote their self-respect. These workers after coming back home to Nepal harbor & encourage strong anti-India feelings in their society.
Poor Bihari Bhaiyas
The brunt of anti-India feelings among the hill people falls upon the Indian migrant workers in Nepal – mostly from Bihar who work as cycle vegetable vendors in Kathmandu streets – and their look alike Nepali Madhesi commoners. The Nepali Madhesis owing to their cultural similarity with Bihar & UP people are still looked upon with suspicion by the hill people regarding the formers’ nationality & patriotism. The plight of Nepali Madhesis in their own homeland in turn has fueled anti-Pahadi feelings in the Terai. Incidentally, the poor Bihari people seem to fare the discrimination most – be it in Bombay, Assam, or Kathmandu. “Bhaiya” which literally means “brother” is a ‘nigger’ word used to call the Bihari & Madhesi commoners in all these places.
Madhesi Movement: Armed Vs Peaceful
The Madhesis initially raised arms against the state to counter the Pahadi hegemony in the state structures. The early armed groups were the splinters from the Maoists who targeted the Pahadi people in Terai to bargain with the state. Later, especially after the Madhesi Movement of 2007, the political issues were mostly represented by the mainstream Madhesi parties like MJF, TMDP, & NSP. Even the Maoist Party itself has a strong base among the Madhesi people.
Since the Madhesi people did not allow the armed rebellion to flare into a Nepali version of “Tamil Vs Sinhalese” full scale war, the lawlessness of the neighboring Bihar & UP crept into the armed groups reducing most of them into a bunch of criminal gangs. These groups resort to extortion, kidnapping, & ransom killings. In fact, more Madhesis than Pahadis have been killed & tortured by these armed outfits in the recent days. Hence, at the current situation, it’s difficult for an ideologically motivated armed Madhesi political outfit to differentiate itself from the opportunist extortionists & criminals.
Thus, the decision by the MVK for holding a truce, and fight their battle at the talks table certainly brings a new wave of hope for the peaceful resolution of the Terai issues. The MVK’s gesture toward peace would not only put a moral pressure on other armed forces, its cadres might face security threats from the rivals. Hence, the government & media must highlight & praise the MVK’s positive stance, and look after the security of the MVK cadres.