All original people of the Terai working for liberation, unite!
Madhesh Mukti – Jindabad!!
All original people of the Terai working for liberation, unite!
All Terai Liberation Front
Fist National General Assembly Preperation Committee
I, as a leader of the Terai liberation movement to free the original inhabitants of the Terai who have been victims of Nepali colonization and exploitation, consider it my duty to inform the international community on the real situation in the Terai and appeal for their just help.
The Terai currently governed by Nepal is the northern part of the ancient Kaushal, Kashi, and Mithila states. These states were initially self-governed by their own people. In the first half of the fourteenth century, the Nepali part of the Terai was governed by Simraungadh. In the past, the Terai was colonized and controlled by the Mughal rulers, then by the British, and now by Nepal.
The facts of history are very cruel and hard. History is witness that after the defeat in the hands of Muslim attackers, Hindus in the Indian subcontinent sought refuge in various places in different groups to save their lives and dignity. Among the refugees, it was the Sen group from Chitaud in today’s India who became rulers of Palpa in the western part of today’s Nepal. The Sen rulers used to pay ‘taxes’ to the Muslim rulers to rule over Nepal. Mugal ruler Aurangjeb used to take an eleven-hand big elephant every year as tax.
After the attack and destruction of Chitaudgadh by Muslim invaders, the ancestors of the Shah dynasty fled to the western hills. In 1559, Drabya Shah captured the Gorkha kingdom through deception and conspiracy. From 1744, Shah ruler Privthvi Narayan Shah started the bloody military campaign to expand the Gorkha kingdom. During this course, he conquered several areas in the hills.
The Muslim rule in the Indian subcontinent declined and there was a rise of the British East India Company government. Prithvi Narayan Shah vanquished the Sen dynasty and started ruling over the Terai by paying elephants as taxes to the British East India Company government. After having the Terai under his power, Prithvi Narayan Shah started applying the unspoken principle of isolating the Terai people from the governance, including by excluding them from the military organization which was the backbone of political power. Prithvi Narayan Shah included the defeated Pahadi people during his expansion campaign in both the military and government. He used military force to conquer the land and make Terai people slaves. The Terai people had braved dangerous diseases like Malaria and dangerous animals like tigers, lions, bears and snakes to till their fertile lands. After Prithvi Narayan Shah, other rulers who followed him continued to follow his polices. Terai became the economic resource for Nepal for its war chest for territorial expansion, and funds to sustain the lavish lifestyle of the rulers. For this money, the slave Terai people had to suffer from cruelty that was comparable to the medieval ages.
The practice of providing an elephant as tax had been cancelled in 1801 agreement in return for allowing the British Resident in Kathmandu and allowing the British to trade with Tibet through Nepal. But in 1804, controversy and clashes erupted between the company government and Nepal government over the land in the Terai. The clashes changed into war on November 1, 1814. In this battle, the Terai people sided with the British East India Company government to fight against the medieval style cruelty and injustice inflicted on them by the Nepal government, considering the Company government as a friend since it was the enemy of its enemy,. On May 15, 1915, the commander of the western regiment of Nepal, Amar Singh Thapa, surrendered to the commander of the western regiment of the Company government, General Octorlony. The defeated Nepali government was forced to sign a treaty with the Company government. On the treaty written in Sugauli on December 2, 1815, it is written that the Nepali government will handover all lands in the Terai between the Sutlej and Tista rivers, the hilly lands between Mechi and Tista, and the hilly lands between Mahakali and Sutlej rivers. As compensation, the Nepal government would receive an annual sum of 2 lakhs for the salaries and pensions for the courtiers. According to clauses 6 and 7, the treaty made Nepal a semi-colony of the British by handing over all responsibilities of Foreign Affairs. The Terai people became free of Nepali rule. The 9 point Sugauli treaty was presented to the Nepal palace for approval. However, there was disagreement between the courtiers about handing over all the land in the Terai as stipulated in the treaty. The first reason for this was that the Terai was the primary source of income for the Nepal government and the second reason was that most of the courtiers had their ‘jagir’ lands in the Terai. As a result, most influential courtiers were on the side of starting a war again. According to the Treaty of Betrabatti signed in 1792, Nepal had sent a letter to China asking for military assistance at the beginning of the war. The information that the letter had reached Beijing through Lhasa reached Kathmandu. Thus, the Nepal palace ignored the treaty letter and focused on strengthening the security to the entrance to Kathmandu.
Nepal was again defeated in the battles in February 27 and 29, 1816. In August 1816, Chinese officials came to Digarchi in Tibet to study the ground reality in Nepal. By then, the Nepal government had already ratified and submitted the treaty to the Company government in March. The Chinese military official sent a letter to Kathmandu saying the British Resident should not be allowed to stay in Kathmandu. This letter became a problematic issue for the Company government. So that the Nepal government did not side with the Chinese, the Company government ratified the Sugauli Treaty along with a memorandum for the amendment of the treaty on December 8, 1816. The memorandum divided the Terai and gave the Nepal government all lands in the Terai between the Mechi and Rapti rivers that lies north of the current Indian border. It also ended the payment of the 2 lakh rupees the Company government was paying to the Nepal government. In clause 7 of the memorandum, it is stated that the Nepal government will not discriminate or take any action against any Terai resident for having sided with the Company government during wartime. The clause also says that any Terai people, except farmers, who wanted to willfully leave their property and resettle in India would be allowed to do so. The Terai people who had fought for freedom had to be content with tears after being handed back to Nepal. The Company government opened up recruitment for Nepali youths in the British army. The Nepal government started receiving an annual 10 lakh from the Company government for allowing the recruitment. But the British government denied the same opportunity to Terai youth.
Terai became the victim of colonized exploitation. The difference between class exploitation and colonization is that in colonization the community that is ruled over is distinctly different from the community that rules in that each has their own distinctive socio-economic process and there is a clear practical distance that is maintained between the rulers and the ruled. This was the case between the British East India Company’s rule in the Terai, and continued to be the case when Nepal ruled over the Terai.
The Company government ordered the Nepal government to suppress the mutiny, or the first Indian independence movement, in 1857. Under the leadership of Nepal’s prime minister and Commander-in-chief Jang Bahadur Rana, the Nepal army brutally repressed the Indian people’s freedom movement through rape, murder, looting, violence, and arson and established complete control over Luckhnow on March 21, 1858.
After revolts by Indian nationals, army, and local kings dissatisfied by the Company government, the British parliament passed the ‘Indian Rule Act – 1858’. As a result, on November 1, 1858 the announcement to end Company rule and begin direct rule by the British was made in Allahabad.
After the failure of the revolt, thousands of revolutionaries took refuge in the Terai area under Nepal’s control. In 1859, at the request of the British, thousands of revolutionaries were allowed into Nepal, in accordance of Clause 7 of the Sugauli Treaty and under the supervision of the British Resident. Jang Bahadur robbed many of these women of their dignity and also looted jewelry and other precious materials from them.
In this way, by repressing revolt, supurdi of the revolting families, violating the dignity of women and looting their wealth, Jang Bahadur won the trust of the British. As a result, on November 1, 1860, through a treaty letter, the British government gave Nepal all land in the Terai between Kali and Rapti rivers, between Rapti river and Gorakhpur district, that currently falls within Nepal’s territory. The Nepal government called it ‘Naya Muluk’ (new country). Thus, through the treaties and memorandums of 1816 and 1860, the British government divided Terai and handed over the semi-colony between the Mahakali and Mechi rivers to Nepal, territories that are currently under Nepal’s rule. Therefore, the Terai controlled by the current Nepal government was not won by a Shah dynasty king or Nepalis.
After participating in the Independence movement since 1857, the Terai people in India won independence on August 15, 1947 and lived a life of dignity. But the Terai people of Nepal were forced to live a life of slavery in the land given by the British to Nepal.
After the independence of India, it is mentioned in Clause 8 of India-Nepal Friendship Treaty – 1950 that “Regarding all the subject matters referred to in this treaty, all previous treaties and agreements are annulled”. This treaty was registered in the UN office by the India government with the registration number 1302. Similarly, in Clause 8 of the treaty between United Kingdom and Nepal in 1950, it is mentioned that “All treaties and agreements signed before and on December 21, 1923 are cancelled”. According to Clause 8 of both the treaties between the Nepal government and India and Nepal government and the United Kingdom government, the treaties and memorandums signed in 1816 and 1860 are automatically cancelled. Thus, Nepal has no right to ruler over Terai. The original people of Terai are no longer slaves.
Following this, instead of a revolution for self-governance in the Terai, the movement focused against the Rana regime. Terai remained the cyclonic center of the movement. King Tribhuwan took refuge in India. Under the mediation of Indian Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, a tripartite agreement was made between the king, the Ranas, and the Nepali Congress. On February 18, 1951 the end of the Rana regime was announced. Instead of letting the Terai people rule themselves, a new policy of displacing the Terai people from their land and maintaining control of the land was put in place. Under this conspiracy, new settlements to resettle Nepalis were started in the Terai with government money. After receiving the Terai from the British, Nepali rulers used bakshis, brita, zamindari, jagirdari, talikdari, and mandir-Mahant to provide the fertile land in the Terai, but very few Nepalis chose to move. Even though Nepal had no right to govern the Terai, since 1951 a systematic policy was put in place for resettlement and population redistribution.
Another conspiracy was hatched in 1952 with the new law on citizenship to chase away Terai people. It can be learned by studying different laws in Nepal even after the Terai was handed over to the Nepal, nationals and foreigners were distinguished, but the new citizenship law of 1952 was adopted throughout Nepal, including in the Terai. In 1954, the first resettlement program was started in Chitwan under the name of Rapti resettlement program to systematically resettle Pahadi Nepali people in the Terai.
Even under the democratic rule, there were different laws for Nepalis and Terai people. For example, according to clause 152 on cases of murder, a Nepali (Pahadi) badi would have to pay 10 – 15 rupees whereas a pratibadi had to pay 25 rupees. However, for the Terai people, both the badi and pratibadi would have to pay 100 rupees as bail. Not only this, Terai people had to get a permit (passport) to go to hilly regions like Indian nationals. Only once in a year during Shiva Ratri were the Terai people and Indian nationals not required to procure a passport to visit Pashupatinath.
On December 14, 1955, 16 countries including Nepal received the membership to the United Nations. On February 24, 1956, Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld asked through a letter to these countries if they had any such territories which fell under UN Charter Chapter 11 Paragraph 73. Jordan, Nepal and Spain did not respond. The question was again brought up on November 30, 1956 in the meeting of the Fourth Committee. But because no voice had been raised for the independence of the Terai, the first Foreign Minister of Nepal Chuda Prasad Sharma, who headed the Nepali delegation, violated all codes of ethics by saying that there was no territory in Nepal under the aforementioned charter that UN ought to be informed about. On February 24, 1956 after the delegation had returned from the visit, a letter was sent to the UN answering the question raised by Dag Hammarskjöld, which was published on April 1, 1957 in UN Publication ST/DPI/SER.A/73/REV.1 on page 8. Following this, the injustice against people of Terai origin further increased. In 1958, the Nepal government launched a malaria eradication program in the Terai with foreign assistance, which was complimented by an extensive information dissemination program to encourage Nepali people to resettle in the Terai. However, at that time, malaria was still prevalent. Every year, about 20 lakh people suffered from malaria, 10% of whom died.
In 1962, in the constitution promulgated by the king to establish his cruel and oppressive regime, citizenship was introduced in the constitution. In Clause 8 Sub-clause 2 (a) of the constitution, it was mentioned that the condition for foreigners to acquire Nepali citizenship was that “they should be able to read and write Nepali” which made it possible for expatriate and refugee Nepalis living in Burma, Bhutan, Tibet, and Assam, Arunachal, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mijoram, Nagalan, Tripura, Darjelling, Kharsang, Kalingpong, Benaras, and Dehradun in India to resettle in Nepal, who were resettled in after clearing the famous “char kose jhaadi”.
In 1964, a land reform act was passed. The Terai people did not focus on the political aspects of the land reform, instead focusing on the economic and scientific aspects. The land reform program was enthusiastically implemented in the Terai from Kathmandu and other hilly places. It was the Terai people who had tilled with sweat and blood the fertile lands owned by Nepali landlords, but in the absence of a movement for Terai liberation, the Terai people were denied the benefits of the land reform program. Lands that exceeded the ceiling were distributed not to Terai people but to Nepalis.
The land reform act was not a scientific plan to fix a ceiling, establish the ownership of the tiller of the land and increase production but rather a political conspiracy to increase infighting among the Terai people and deny them their land rights.
In 1964, the Resettlement Company was founded to systematically relocate and resettle people under the Department of Relocation and Resettlement. Resettlement programs were implemented by clearing the thick forests in the Terai. Resettlement department provided the resettlers with free land and food to assist in the resettlement. Apart from this, they were provided with facilities for education, health etc. In the name of political victims, many politically affiliated and related people were also given land in the Terai. The Tharus in the far west were forced to become kamaiyas by the non-resident Nepalis. Due to displacement from their lands, Tharu, Rajbanshi, Satar, Jhagad, Dhimal, Gagnai and other communities had to seek refuge in Champaran, Santhal Pargana, Dinajpur, Lakhimpur etc. in India.
To divert the attention of the International community from the resettlement in the Terai, a Hitler’s propaganda minister Goebbel’s style propaganda was spread saying that large scale immigration was happening from India to Nepal. It was for this conspiracy that a commission was formed under the leadership of Dr. Harka Bahadur Gurung to study the immigration and resettlement in Nepal from outside and from the hills and make recommendations. In 1983, the Gurung Commission produced a report whose main point was to encourage the migration of Pahadi people in the Terai.
The constitution of the 1990 continued the provision in the 1962 constitution on citizenship, encouraging expatriate Nepali foreigners to resettle in Nepal. In the 12 years of democracy, 11 governments were formed. Each of them formed “Refugee Commission” and distributed the land in the Terai to Nepalis in the name of refugees. The Nepalis have now managed to control 70% of the land in the Terai and this trend is still continuing unabated.
Today, temples and other religious and cultural monuments are being reconstructed in the name of ‘Nepalization’ using the so-called Nepali Pagoda style which is imported from China. Our beloved motherland Terai has the legacy of the great states of Kaushal, Koshi and Mithila.
It is a well known fact that the dress of the Terai people is dhoti, kurta, and gamcha. But the word ‘dhoti’ has become synonymous with humiliation of the Terai people. The Nepali people, describing it as an Indian dress, are categorizing Terai people as the same as Indians living in Fiji, Mauritius and other places. This has had a tremendous psychological impact, but the Terai people are not of Indian origin. On July 18, 1947 the British parliament established India and Pakistan as separate nations through the Indian Independence Act. According to that legislation, Bengal and Punjab were divided into two parts – eastern and western – and international boundaries were set. According to this eastern Punjab and western Bengal fell in India, whereas the other two in Pakistan. The western Punjab was renamed western Pakistan and eastern Bengal was renamed eastern Pakistan. In 1971, the eastern Pakistan gained independence and was renamed Bangladesh. After this, these entities became known in the global national boundaries as three separate nations. After the independence in 1947, Punjabis in Pakistan are not called Indian Punjabi but Pakistani Punjabi. Similarly, after 1971, the Hindus in Bangladesh are not called Indian Hindus but Bangladeshi Hindus. Then how can Terai people who lived under Nepali control due to treaties in 1816 and 1860 be of Indian origin? Thus, the Terai people are of Terai origin, not Indian origin.
The 21st century is a century of freedom from colonization. In 2005, Tokelau became the newest country in the world after being freed from colonization. It total area is 12.2 square km. This new country’s population is 1600. Tokelau was discovered a quarter century ago by a British expedition, in 1926, Tokelau was handed over to New Zealand. Tokelau was ruled by New Zealand for the last 76 years. Terai too was handed over to Nepal by treaties in 1816 and 1860. According to Clause 8 of both the treaties between the Nepal government and India (1950) and Nepal government and United Kingdom, all the past treaties and agreements are automatically annulled. Since then, Nepali rulers do not have any right to rule in the Terai. Terai people are neither Indians nor Nepalis, their identity is Terai and their nationality is Terai.
It is a historical imperative of the Terai people to liberate their homeland Terai. Until the Terai is liberated, the economic, political, social, cultural, linguistic and national identity and other problems cannot be resolved permanently. Nepali rulers have spread terror in the Terai through Nepal Police, APF and STF against the Terai liberation. Despite the fact that under the effective supervision of the United Nations, the CPN (Maoist) have engaged in arms and soldiers management, joined the interim parliament, and joined the government twice, it has continued its armed insurgency in the Terai. Chairman of the Maoists Prachanda has also confirmed it in his expression on April 7, 2007. The Terai people are terrified by the violence and murder conducted by the YCL. The Nepali people are always united in violently repressing the movement for the liberation of Terai. This has been shown by the incidents in the past. The Terai people have been systematically denied of their rights and resources and every opposition has been cruelly repressed. I politely ask you to confirm from your independent sources how much opposition and hatred there is for Nepali rule in the Terai. When the Nepali rulers started repressing the Terai liberation movement through guns, we hesitantly took the leadership to counter the repression. Therefore, I appeal to all countries and international organizations to justly assist to end the colonization of the Terai and give the Terai people the right to political determination.
Jay Krishna Goit
First National Assembly Preparation Committee
All Terai Liberation Front
16 March, 2008