Over 5,000 people displaced after ethnic violence in south

September 24, 2007 at 5:57 pm 1 comment

Over 5,000 people displaced after ethnic violence in south

Photo: Naresh Newar/IRIN
A large number of Pahades have been displaced in southeast Nepal

KATHMANDU, 24 September 2007 (IRIN) – Over 5,000 people have been displaced over the past week in southeastern Nepal due to violence between Pahade and Madhesi ethnic groups, according to a report released on 24 September by the Human Rights Treaty Monitoring Coordination Committee (HRTMCC), a joint forum of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Nepal working in the field of human rights.

The incident that took place in the Madhesi-dominated Kapilvastu District, some 285km southeast of Kathmandu, is one of the worst incidents of ethnic violence so far in the Terai region, according to local rights activists.

The Madhesi are the original inhabitants of the Terai region, a lowland area of southern and southeastern Nepal which has become the bread basket and industrial heartland of the country. The Pahade, on the other hand, are of hill origin and migrated to the Terai for work. There have been tensions between the two groups since a large group of Pahades moved to the Terai in the 1960s, but the recent incident was the first time they had fought each other.

Human rights activists told IRIN the violence had intensified since 16 September when a local Madhesi leader, Mohit Khan, was murdered by unknown attackers.

Blaming the Pahades for his death, Madhesis burnt and looted the houses and shops of Pahades, said activists. Eighteen people – the majority of whom were Pahades – were killed, dozens were injured while another 50 were reported missing, and 500 houses were burnt down, according to the HRTMCC, which sent a mission to Kapilvastu.

Government criticised

Local civilians and rights activists are furious about the lack of government help for hundreds of displaced families who lack food and proper shelter.

“The situation has worsened for the families and the government has failed to do anything to support them,” rights activist Subodh Pyakhurel told IRIN.

He said the police had not carried out an investigation to gather accurate information on destroyed homes and displaced families.

“The government should immediately begin the rehabilitation of the displaced and make the local authorities alert to any further victims,” said another activist, Kundan Aryal.

The victims

“We have been waiting every day for government officials and political leaders to come and help these poor displaced families but where are they?” asked a local civilian, Rajendra Bikram Shahi, in Shivagadi village, Kapilvastu District, where thousands of the displaced have taken refuge after fleeing their villages – Pathardehiya, Manpur, Aulaha, Chauha, Sisampari, Bisanpur Farlan, Katuwa, Tharuli and Khuruhuriya.

The displaced families explained how they were close to getting killed but managed to escape, unlike their relatives who were murdered by the Madhesi, they said.

“About 60 Madhesi came and burnt our house and we were not even able to rescue our things and money. They killed my relatives,” said Bhuma Thapa, who explained that he lost three relatives.

According to the HRTMCC report, out of the 5,000 displaced people, around 4,300 Pahades are staying in schools, army camps or are on open ground.

Madhesis flee to India

However, activists say many Madhesi families, most of them Muslims, were also displaced due to attacks by Pahade groups avenging the killings of Pahades. Hundreds of Madhesi families have fled to India fearing more reprisals.

Photo: Naresh Newar/IRIN
Madhesi civilians have also suffered following attacks from Pahade groups

“Despite the curfew in Kapilvastu, ethnic harmony is being jeopardised. Fighting between the [two] ethnic groups has not stopped even now,” said the report.

Meanwhile, government officials have said they will take action against the security officials who failed to prevent violence breaking out between the two groups and which led to the displacements.

“The government regrets such an incident occurred. We will immediately provide relief support and compensation to the displaced families and help in their return. This is our top priority,” said Home Affairs Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula. He denied the government had remained indifferent to the situation.



Entry filed under: Articles.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Aam Nepali  |  September 27, 2007 at 7:57 am

    See, where is your sympathy when pahades are burnt, savaged and displaced from their homes. Pahades are victim of displacement by maoists in pahad, bhutan kicks them out, and they are discriminated in India…madhesis are blind in their movement which has gone out of hand…may peace prevail…an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind ~gandhi

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