Madhesi Dream: A Madhesi Nepal ?
Madhesi Dream: A Madhesi Nepal ?
— By Salik Shah (Kathmandu Speaks)
“The Philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.”
Kathmandu Speaks is not only interpreting the world. It is my honest attempt to ‘change’- inspire you to ‘change’ the world. I still remember how I was moved by Martin Luther King’s ‘I’ve A Dream’ speech.
He dreamt about equality, about freedom of Negro community. I dream about the Black people of this country- the marginalized and largely discriminated Madhesi community. I dream that one day Madhesi people will be able to talk with Bahuns and Chhetris- staring right into their eyes and not by bending their heads low in front of them. One day- a poor Madhesi will not repeat-“Hajur, hajur” after every sentence while talking with a Parbate or a Newar. One day- those people will not call a Madhesi “bhaiya” anymore. That one day- they will respect the man in “Dhoti”. I’ve a dream that one day a Madhesi will be the president of this country. And I feel this for every marginalized community in this country, this is what all downtrodden and suppressed Nepalis dream of every night.
Well, Nepalis leaders are busy deciding dates for constituent assembly polls et al- but they are too ignorant to acknowledge that Madhesh is undergoing a monumental transformation in its history at this time. Fifteen years ago, a thought came into my mind. Since our country is landlocked- I thought of a brilliant plan to connect her with an ocean. I was, of course, a child then- I thought of blowing up the Indo-Nepal border on their side and fill it with water. A few years later- after seeing how the Madhesi people were treated inhumanely in Kathmandu- so-called
Nepal- I thought of a brilliant plan again. I dreamt of a sovereign Terai- one independent country Madhesh- where the citizens will be proudly called Madhesis- and not disgracefully called Dhotis, Marsiya or Bahiya. I thought that only then these people will realize how important we were to them- that our place is not under their feet but on their head! Of course, today I believe that our right place is not under their feet- and even not above their head- but at the equal footing with each other.
Sometimes, I become ultra-nationalist. Sometimes in past, a thought came across my mind- I wanted to be a freedom fighter (terrorist in common sense), and restart Gurkhaland Movement- and chase away Shashastra Seema Bal, Indian para-military troops and their citizens from the encroached Nepali soil. That was me, still a teenager, but those sentiments, even though now tamed, were real- this is what every Nepali youth do think at one point of his/her prime. The worse thing is- when you get the real ‘opportunity’ to materialize such ideas, it does more harm than good. Today, war cannot be justified at any cost. I don’t feel Afghans are free today. I can’t accept Iraqi democracy at the cost of millions of human lives and destruction of a civilization. Today, Madhesh is in flames- all those Prachandas, Girijas and Nepals are after all higher-caste Bahuns- I wonder if they know what it is to be a Madhesi or Dalits in this country. We’ve heard enough of refugees in other’s country- but Madhesi people are refugees in their own country. After all they are “Dhotis, Marsiyas and Bhaiyas” in hills and mountains. But the real irony is- these same people start to respect a Madhesi in Madhesh most of the times! But they show their true colors in their homelands. “Even a dog behaves like the king of jungle in his own streets!”- goes the Hindi proverb which is just so true in this case.
Every Madhesi child today believes that Madhesi People’s Rights Forum is just as ‘good’ as it was! That without armed rebellion- Janatantrik Terai Liberation Fronts, those Tiger et als- Madhesh will never be free (?). Is this a good sign for the future of Nepal? The people whom I speak, irrespective of their ethnicities, told me frankly- they think Gaur massacre was a bad thing, an unfortunate one- but believe it should teach a lesson or two to the Maoists. One of them said, “You can’t terrorize people with guns forever. What they didn’t know was that they undermining people’s strength. They thought that they can do anything and people will keep quiet as ever. Look, Forum has just retreated- and in many cases in humiliating and inhumane manners. But what about the brutality of Maoists during the insurgency?”
I grew up in Kathmandu among Newar friends and families. I’m a Madhesi by the virtue of my birth and there is almost nothing besides that to make me fit into their category- there was a point of time when I used to feel so bad about it. I tried to be a Nepali, because Madhesi people were not considered Nepalis– they were considered Indians. Today, I’m proud to call myself a Madhesi. Why? Because I’m educated, I’m as competent (sometimes better) as others. Because my Newar friends respect me as I’m and not due to my ethnicity. I’m a part of their families. After some twenty years of living in this country, I know that those leaders can’t build a New Nepal- we have to build it together. I know now that only with education and economic independence comes freedom and respect. Without literacy and awareness- not a single community can earn respect or dignity from their fellow being. Kathmandu Speaks wants to empower every marginalized communities in this country- not just few indigenous groups, Madhesis or Tharus- there are poor Nepalis in every part of the country, we want to uplift their lives.
I’ve always disliked violence and bloodshed- but a decade long Maoists insurgency has opened up my eyes- without guns, you won’t be as powerful as you could be with them. Today, Girija has welcomed Prachanda- his own life-long enemies- with open hands- even putting his more than 60 years of political life at stake? What a commitment? “We’re all brothers.” What hypocrites? I believe that actions speak louder than words.
Personally, I want to take an interview of Girija babu– he’s anyways a national figure- a hero? A hero who failed? A hero who couldn’t see beyond his family, party and politicking. A hero who born seeds for Maoists insurgency, then fueled another bloody movement- Madhesi Uprising. A hero with feet of clay…
While all Nepalis are looking forward to election, all party government- I don’t know why it has not been of much interest to me? I’m afraid that I don’t have any trust on these leaders any more. Is there a leader in this country? Yes, there are but these old conservative ‘grandfathers’ would never like to see their sons rule their nation as long as they are alive.
I think Girija has a problem- he thinks he’s the master of the country- that he’s all so powerful. But under his own nose- some doubt that Prachanda would at any moment withdraw from the government and re-start the bloodshed. But a majority of people believe that this won’t happen. That Prachanda who talked about empowering rural mass and make them rulers one day- has made his son, wife and dear ones his successors.
“The other report I would appreciate your comments on concerns some recent appointments within your party. But before I quote from another report on these, about a month ago a very close source of mine was at a party in Kathmandu. You attended yourself, but only after your wife had been there for a while to “pave the way for your great presence”. During this time she openly spoke about how she and her sisters etc would get important and powerful jobs in the upcoming government and what she would do/act upon when she had the power. I have no comment on these conversations, yet. However, today I have seen a report which states the following: CPN (Maoist) Valley-in-charge Pawanman Shrestha (Prabhakiran) has been replaced by Hitman Shakya. Similarly, Hisila Yami, wife of Dr Baburam Bhattrai, has been appointed as the Deputy Valley-in-charge. Prachanda’s wife Sita Poudel likewise, has been appointed as the Central Advisor in the headquarters. Prabha, wife of Dev Gurung, who was the Incharge of Kaski district, has been appointed as the in-charge of Bhaktapur. Prachanda’s son Prakash similarly has been leading the security department of headquarters. His wife Renu has been appointed in Kathmandu District Committee.”
Perhaps, this is a rumor because it’s too hard to believe that they whom thousands of people put their trust upon have finally betrayed us? Perhaps, there is some element of truth in it? I don’t know, please ask Dr Brian Metters.
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