Big 3 positive on Tharu demandsFormal talks between three major parties and agitating Tharu community on resolving the Tarai issues have progressed on a positive note with top leaders of the Big Three hinting at meeting seven-point demand of the disgruntled forces, Tharu leaders present in the meeting said on Thursday.
Formal talks between three major parties and agitating Tharu community on resolving the Tarai issues have progressed on a positive note with top leaders of the Big Three hinting at meeting seven-point demand of the disgruntled forces, Tharu leaders present in the meeting said on Thursday.
The talks come two days after Prime Minister Sushil Koirala sent his third letter in a month to Tharuhat/Tharuwan Joint Struggle Committee.
Ram Janam Chaudhary, general secretary of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum- Loktantrik (MJF-L), said top leaders were positive on all issues raised by the Tharu community, including the implementation of the past accords.
“We have asked them to first release our leaders and withdraw criminal charges against them. We will sit in the next round of talks only after their release,” said Chaudhary. “PM said he is positive on releasing arrested leaders in the aftermath of Tikapur incident.”
According to Chaudhary, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Dahal urged them to be flexible on their demands while promising a similar approach from the three parties in addressing Tharuhat demands.
The release of arrested leaders is one of the major demands of Tharus for the talks. In the meeting, Tharu leaders sought commitment from the top leaders on their seven-point demand.
Authorities have arrested around three dozen Tharu leaders, including Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik lead Laxman Tharu, and Lahuram Chaudhary, a local Tharu leader affiliated with the Tharu Kalyankari Sabha. Many of them have been charged with murder in connection with Tikapur carnage where eight security personnel and a toddler were killed.
PM Koirala and UCPN (Maoist) Chair Dahal, senior CPN-UML senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal were among the leaders representing the three parties in the meeting. MJF-L Chairman Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, Rukmani Chaudhary of Sanghiya Loktantrik Rastriya Manch (Tharuhat) and Gopal Dahit, lawmaker from the Tharuhat Tarai Party, among others, were present from the Tharu side.
Interlocutors said the talks became possible after the major parties hinted at a “middle ground” in resolving the Tharu demands.
Gachhadar have been in constant touch with leaders of the major parties to sort out the differences between the two sides over disputed issues, including the demarcation of federal province.
During the talks, the major parties have expressed their readiness to announce some Tharu strongholds, including Kailali and Kanchanpur, as Special Autonomous Tharuhat/Tharuwan Region. Similarly, they have also proposed to announce some districts in the east as Kochila/Birat Autonomous Region. The major parties are of the views that giving autonomous status to these regions would address issues of Tharus, Rajbanshis, Santhals and Madhesis living in the region.
MJF-L leaders, however, want at least one more district in the east to be included in the Madhesi province. Gachhadar believes that will silence the disgruntled voices in Madhes. Some Tharu leaders walked away at the middle of the meeting suspecting that the top leaders were against addressing all of Tharu community demands.
Raj Kumar lekhi, a Tharu leader, said he left the meeting after finding that the major parties were not positive about their demands. Other key demands of the Tharus include proportional and inclusive representation of Tharus in all state bodies and recognition of Tharu language as official language.