Interview with Jwala Singh(Heads JTMM)
Interview with Nagendra Pasman alias Jwala Singh, who heads the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (Jwala Singh). The interview was taken by INSEC District Representative Devraj Pokhrel with the help of Sunil Kumar Shah, the president of People Upliftment Centre, Lahan (January 14)
Nagendra Pasman aka Jwala Singh, 42, hails from Siraha Municipality-7. He began his political career as the Siraha district secretary of Samyukta Janmorcha Nepal in 2050 BS. He became vice-president of Federation of Nepalese Journalists, Siraha branch for two tenures and reporter of Janadesh weekly. He later joined CPN (Maoist) through Madheshi Rastriya Mukti Morcha (Madheshi National Liberation Front) on 2058 BS as central member. He left the Maoists on 2062 BS to join the Jantantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) led by Jay Krishna Goit and worked as in-charge of eastern military command. On 2063, he issued a press statement informing about his nomination as president through the first General Assembly of JTMM and that coordinator of JTMM, Jay Krishna Goit, was placed as the honorary leader of the party.
Q: Why did you break up with the Maoists? What were the differences between you and Maoist? Were you of the conclusion that there was caste domination insideMaoist party?
Jwala: Thanks for your question. We joined Maoist party believing it was a scientific party, was a Marxist party. We performed all our duties honestly as per the party policy and direction from the party. But caste domination persisted inside the party. We used to send people of our areas to the People’s Liberation Army but they would be bothered unnecessarily. There was discrimination among the Pahade (hilly area people) and Madheshi (terrain area people). We were unsatisfied with such abhorrence of caste inside a Marxist party, a scientific party. We said that since we have Madheshi fighters inside the Maoist party, our demands should also be addressed and the Maoist party’s vision for Madhesh should be clear.
Out of 24.6-million population of the country, Madheshi count for 14 millions. Therefore, we put forward proposals that a separated command should be established in the Terai and the leadership be given to Madheshi people. Our demand was that Madheshi should be the in-charge and a Madheshi regiment should also be established. But some responsible friends of the Maoist party termed it dangerous to establish a Madheshi regiment in Terai area. Their opinion that establishing Madheshi army would pose threat to Pahade friends was discriminating.
This is why we could not walk together. Maoist party could not keep its clear view on us, could not satisfy us, as a result we separated from the party. Caste discrimination existing inside the Maoist party should also come out clearly.
I would like to give an example, very recently Maoist chairman Prachanda, made statement that police posts in the Terai should be re-instated quickly with the help of the government but would do the same in the hilly area later. We are serious on this issue too.
Q: Even some political leaders of Madheshi origin have been criticizing that your armed struggle, rather being against state or government, is targeted against certain community. A press statement was also issued in this regard some times back. Could you tell something about your struggle?
Jwala: Our struggle is targeted against singular community state. Since 238 years, this state is doing injustice, suppressing and ruling the Madheshi people. Therefore, our struggle is not targeted against the Pahadi people. Our struggle is against the regulators of the Pahade state. But we are being misinterpreted. There I would like to request through your organization that, we might have committed some small mistakes in the past but our struggle is clearly against the state. We are fighting against the state for our rights.
Q: But you are accused of harassing individuals, terrorizing a targeted community?
Jwala: See, our revolution was suppressed by the Rana regime also. Dr. Rabindra Thakur, who raised the question of Madhesh during Panchayat regime, was murdered. Rammani Mishra fared the same fate.
After the Janandolan of 2046 BS, democracy was established in the country but our co-fighter Deb Narayan Yadav was also killed. Suraj Mahato, who was known as red star of Terai, was also killed. In this way, the Pahadi government has killed our brave fighters. No media gave priority to this.
We do not have policy to kill and abduct innocent Pahade. We capture those persons who are involved on abetting arrest of our cadres, who are ruling, suppressing us, the Madheshi people in Terai. We charge fine after capturing them. We do not target whole of Pahade community.
Q: What are your issues/demands?
Jwala: We have nine-point demands. It has been recently publicized through a press statement.
Our demands are that Terai should be declared an independent state; there should be proportionate participation by determining constituencies on the basis of population; all the police, army and administration in the Terai should be evacuated and Madheshi people should be posted there; Population census should be conducted in Terai in the coordination of Madheshi; all the revenue collected from Terai should be spent for the development of Terai; all the Madheshi killed by state and Maoists should be declared martyrs and rupees 1.5 million should be provided as compensation; citizenship should be issued from the central to district level in coordination of Madheshi; the land of Madheshi captured by Maoists should be given back and Maoists should stop their donation drive and tax collection in Terai.
We have put our demand very clearly to the government. We appeal human rights organizations, media persons and representative of civil society to draw the attention of the government towards our demands.
Q: What is the main problem of Madhesh? Is it the diversity in economic, social, cultural political spheres or racial?
Jwala: Good question. There are three main issues in the Nepal-occupied Terai. The first is the suppression by authoritarian Pahadi sectarian state and colonial exploitation of Madhesh and Madheshi. Second is class difference in the Terai and third is difference among different caste groups. We want to relieve the Terai from the colonial exploitation. Freedom of our community will go along with it. We have forwarded the fundamental issue of intra-Terai communities. We don’t blame the Pahadi community for such exploitation. It was inflicted by the Pahadi state mechanism.
Q: The voice on need for dialogue is getting strength. It is said that many ministers are also calling for the dialogue. On what condition would you be ready to come to the table?
Jwala: The government ministers don’t follow a uniform stance. Like, Deputy Prime Minister Amik Sherchan was saying the government would talk with Goit and not with Jwala Singh. Next day, home minister says there was no such thing but help of the political parties would be taken. Some have even said that Jwala Singh should be suppressed and annihilated with the use of military power. We are aware of this type of duality. So, the primary condition for the dialogue with the government should an environment of trust.
Q: What the difference between JTMM (Jwala Singh) and other parties like Nepal Sadbhawana Party (Anandi Devi), Madheshi People’s Rights Forum and Pro-Maoist Madheshi Mukti Morcha (MMM) advocating for the Terai people? Can’t all such group have a univocal peaceful stand towards solving the problem?
Jwala: See, prominent persons like Dr Rabindra Thakur, Dev Narayan Yadav and Suraj Mahato, who joined the peaceful path, were murdered. But, in the 21st century, no one has paid and will pay attention to peaceful demands. Our friends have been raising the issues in peaceful manner for long. Who responded to those demands? No one. That is why are compelled to take up the arms. We feel that the Pahadi government is heeding after we launched armed struggle. As far as the issue of Madheshi that other parties are raising, we take them as co-campaigners.
Q: The government is dispatching teams in villages to distribute the citizenship certificate from mid-January. What is your stand on that?
Jwala: This is very important and serious issue. To take the citizenship certificate signed by Pahadi people is to accept their rule. So, the Citizenship Distribution Team should not have any Pahadi people. We won’t pose any obstacle to the CDT comprised of Terai people.
Q: Your organisation does not seem to adhering to Human rights and international humanitarian laws?
Jwala: I come from a press background and am in constant contact with human rights defenders so JTMM (Jwala Singh) is serious about these things. We abide by human rights land Geneva Conventions. All the committees have been asked to respect human rights.
Q: To sum up, do you have anything to say through inseconline?
Jwala: We would like to thank you and INSEC for publishing our stands and demands through inseconline to the people.
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