Deadline for talks- or dead-end to talks?

July 20, 2007 at 4:43 pm 1 comment

Deadline for talks- or dead-end to talks?

— By Salik Shah

Amidst escalating incidents of killings, kidnappings and extortions taking place in Terai, a ‘final’ call for talks to put an end to the state of anarchy through peaceful negotiations has came from the government on Sunday. However, the government’s deadline for agitating Terai groups to come at the table of talks has worsen the matter rather than bringing any of the agitating groups unleashing terror and violence in the region to the negotiating table.

Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula “annoyingly” set an ultimatum of 15 days for all disgruntled and agitating groups responsible for creating a state of terror and crisis in the region to come to the negotiating table with clear demands. However, it seems he has not learned much from more than a decade long Maoists-led civil war and the recent Gaur incident.

The language of ‘threat’ used by Minister Sitaula is unlikely to bring the equally “adamant” groups of Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha outfits led by Jwala Singh, Jay Krishna Goit and Bisfot Singh among others at the table. The various agitating groups along with all three factions of JTMM led by Jwala Singh, Jay rishna Goit as well Bisfot, Madhesi Mukti Tigers among others have already come down heavily against the home minister’s ‘deadline’.
But CPN-Maoists- a party which has come to the political mainstream after leading more than a decade-long similar kind of armed movement- has denounced the calls by the government to hold dialogues with the various agitating groups active in Terai.

CP Gajurel, a Maoist leader, speaking at reporter’s Club on Saturday said that the government’s call for the talks was futile.

Stating that “there’s no point in talking with those who wants to split the country”, Gajurel insisted that the “separatist-extremists forces should be labeled as terrorists”.

Demanding tough actions against the disgruntled groups leading armed movement in Terai, Gajurel said that the Maoists party is very doubtful over the success of dialogues in resolving the Terai crisis.

“When they openly claim that they would come to the negotiating table only to divide the country,” Gajurel said, “There is no point in holding talks with them.”

Maoists have repeatedly expressed their disliking of the various Madhesi groups from the beginning. However, this very ‘adamant’ attitude of the party and underestimation of Madhesi groups’ “strength” could be blamed to lead to the Gaur tragedy as the showcase of “who is king” in the region.

Gajurel, reiterating the Maoists stance, said that the various agitating outfits active in Terai should be banned and crushed with force.

At a time when the peaceful Madhesi andolan was garnering popular support in Terai, the Gaur carnage had tarnished the image of Madhesi People Right’s Forum. However, Upendra Yadav has said that the JTMM has taken the responsibility of the killings. Home Minister has been criticized for the failure of the administration to protect lives of innocent people during the Gaur incident. It has been widely speculated that Home Minister Sitaula sees the Madhesi groups through Maoists eyes, and the recent “ultimatum” is also one of the products of this influence.

However, ever since both MPRF and Maoist-wing Madhesi Rastriya Mukti Morcha (MRMM) have been struggling to get foothold in the region. The Maoist-wing in the Madhesh has been facing serious crisis within its own party as differences between different the Madhesi leaders became severe in recent times. Besides, the MRMM cadres have been unable to carry on the party works in the region as they have been target of both JTMM cadres and MPRF activists.

Reacting to the Home Minister’s call, Upendra Yadav, the MPRF head, welcomed the Home Minister’s call for dialogues but also warned that the government should not use the language of “threat”.

The Peace and Reconstruction Ministry which has been assigned the task of bring agitating Madhesi groups to the table has been able to bring only the MPRF and few other small groups to the negotiating table till date.

The major outfits like three separate factions of JTMM have not come to talks.
“The latest call by minister Sitaula is a “positive” step,” Yadav was quoted as saying.

The Terai andolan has already taken a form of ethnic crisis- dividing those living in Madhesh region as Pahade and Madhesi.

Reports of Pahades being threatened by different Madhesi outfits and Madhesis being displaced from Pahade-dominated areas have become frequent. And to worsen the matter, soon after the home minister’s deadline came, the Jwala Singh-led JTMM issued a press statement saying that his combatants are ready to fight back the state security agencies- and made a “request” to all the Pahade people living in the region to leave Terai in a week.

At current circumstances, the Home Minister’s 15-day ultimatum can’t bring the two estranged communities together again unless it begins to use serious and flexible approach to solve the problem. The government should not only make a verbal call to the groups to come to talks, but at the same time it has to fulfill the task of creating the environment for talks and show its commitment for peaceful resolution as well.

Those groups that are trying to divide the country lack popular support for sure. But as the Maoists’ attitude and labeling of MRPF as “by product” and “waste” of their own movement in the beginning led Madhesi people to unite under the banner of Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (MPRF)- if the government use the same kind of language and threatens the Madhesi outfits of military and other stern actions if they don’t come to talks in “15-days”, then it would be yet another ‘major’ mistake.

There is unemployment, illiteracy and a feeling of being “a second class citizens” among the masses in Terai; the exploitation and utter discrimination faced by people belonging to Madhesi community can only help such outfits like JTMM recruit more combatants as “freedom fighters”. One must not forget the same tactics used by the Maoists to come into political mainstream could be taken up by mushrooming smaller and bigger groups with their personal and political interests in the country.

In this light, Home Minister Sitaula’s call seems just a void calling lacking serious commitment to find a long term solution to the Terai crisis and can enrage and incite the armed groups to retaliate and engage in more violent activities to put ‘pressure’ on the government and worsen the state of law and order in the region so that the CA elections could never take place. By language of ‘threat’ and use of force, the seven-party failed to stop bloodshed and destruction perpetuated by the Maoists in the country. Now, the eight-party and the Maoists especially, should take lessons from their own mistakes and experiences to tackle with the Madhesi groups.

The government should call the agitating groups to the table- but setting a “deadline” to find solution to such a crisis that has potential to divide the entire population of the country is its serious mistake. The Madhesi andolan is not an instant reaction- it took more than two-and-half centuries of exploitation and suffering to take form of the andolan. The feeling of “superiority complex” led to Gaur killings- and the eight-party authoritarianism could only lead to further Gaur-like tragedies. The sooner the eight-party understands it- and approaches the Madhesi groups accordingly- better the chances of peaceful settlement are. If it doesn’t, then the Madhesi movement can put our national unity, territorial integrity and communal harmony at stake.



Entry filed under: Articles.

Talking about nationality and freedom तराई दमन, गृहयुद्धको विजारोपण

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Son of Tirhut  |  July 21, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Salik Ji,
    Very impressive article but do you think there can be any change in mentality of these khasiya people(Specially bahun and chetri). These things are happening since we lost the war with Mr. Pritivi Narayan Shah, since then our unfortunate days started.

    Hope we all madhesi understand this things and come united for our liberty.

    Jai Madhes!!!!!

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