All fired up and nowhere to go

March 12, 2007 at 6:39 am 6 comments

All fired up and nowhere to go

Meeting a small-time revolutionary in a small town hotel


Jwala Singh, real name Nagendra Paswan, proves that you do not have to climb very high to become a powerful dalit in Nepal. In this case, the head of the most violent—but not the most important or largest—faction of the JTMM.Recently we met Paswan in a bare hotel room off a muddy street in small-town Bihar, where everything he and his two companions had could fit into a small holdall. Out of consideration for his guests he left the room to smoke, though he had no compunction about spitting in the corner. He invited us to join him under blankets on the bed and passed around an old studio shot of himself, declining to be photographed as he currently appears.Talking to Paswan is strikingly similar to speaking with a district level Maoist leader—albeit an especially friendly one—during the conflict. He reeled off the short list of killings and attacks he has commissioned with apparent indifference.

Paswan started out as a journalist, mainly for leftist publications. For a while he ran his own newspaper, and was vice-president of the Siraha chapter of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists for six years. Paswan then had a stint with the Maoists, splitting from them in 2004 over the appointment of Matrika Yadav as head of the Maoist-affiliated Tarai Mukti Morcha. He formed the JTMM with Jai Krishna Goit, notionally to fight for complete tarai independence. His early battles after going freelance were against his former comrades.

To hear Paswan tell it, it was not so much a repudiation of Maoist ideas that led to the split as a divergence of interests. He still talks about revolution coming from poverty and suppression. But, he says, “the Maoists didn’t have a clear vision of madhesi rights. We don’t want to be devotees or partners of pahadis. If we do that, there won’t be any liberation of the tarai.”

Paswan soon parted ways with Goit who, he says, “was already 80, always sick, he couldn’t remember dates.” Paswan says he broke away because “the tarai movement needed sacrifice and youth”, and because it was what JTMM cadres wanted. According to one of his followers about 150 former Maoists are in the group, some with their original weapons. The JTMM-J says it has “full strength” in 13 districts and “agents” in five more.

The JTMM-J organised “some attacks and bandas” and during the tarai movement earlier this year hit at least three police posts, killing a policeman called “Karki something” Paswan recalls. The group lost some of its own people, including five in a single incident. By now, he says, “Our front has proved that we are brave and revolutionary.”

Since mid-February, when the government invited madhesi groups for talks, Goit has not yet responded, and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum’s ‘Uprendraji’ is putting increasing pressure on the government. Paswan, who has the weakest profile of the three, immediately accepted the offer. He issued a list of nine demands, and added another the next day as if as an afterthought. The first demand is an independent tarai state, which he insists must run the length of the country. But the second, fair representation for madhesis in the military, politics and administration, suggests that the demand for independence is rhetorical.

“We believe in negotiations and negotiations are about give and take,” Paswan explains. “If the government addresses these problems [of discrimination] and establishes a federal state with self-government, the negotiations might succeed.” The JTMM-J is still waiting for their tarai rivals to follow before the talking can start.

Given his apparent urge for credibility, does Paswan intend to contest the constituent assembly election? “Yes, if negotiations succeed and madhesi rights are guaranteed. Our fight is for power and rights,” he says, apparently to the surprise of the two boys sitting with him.

Paswan smoked another cigarette, explaining that he was under a lot of stress. We left the hotel together and he tramped off down the muddy street, with his two young followers and their little bag.



Entry filed under: Articles.


6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Son of Tirhut  |  March 12, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    Dear Jwala Ji,
    I have read the interview and the entire information about you that was provided on internet, all are superbs and very impresssive. WE are with you, you can’t just kneel down in this way, you are our hero.


    Jai Madhes!!!!!

  • 2. ranjan  |  March 13, 2007 at 3:37 am

    you have support of mollions of madhesis.

  • 3. kalyan  |  March 14, 2007 at 7:10 am

    What is the strength of JTMM-J and real motive of their insurgency??

  • 4. roshon thakur  |  March 14, 2007 at 8:01 am

    if u want to dived a country and want to make a different country TARAI . pls bring the area which has covered by india nowadays but in histrory that was of tarai of ( mithila, birat rajya, bhojpuri)
    why u argue here and for tarai rang of nepal only why not for whole tarai reason.

  • 5. Navin Shekhar  |  March 18, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Your Site is Heartbeet of Madeshi

  • 6. bishal  |  May 23, 2007 at 5:42 am

    I don’t believe in violence so I condemn all sorts of killings whether it be military or civilian. So, I pledge the JTTM,J as well as other insurgents to give up the arms and peacefully negotiate with the government. We don’t want Nepal to fall under another civil war.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Celebration of 1,00,000

Madhesi Voice

United We Celebrate

People Celebrating faguwa (Holi), with the fun of music, quite popular among Terai people. Holi is celebrated each year on the eve of falgun purnima Faguwa (Holi) Celebration

Past Posts


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 50 other followers

%d bloggers like this: