Better luck next yearThe year 2016 brought big hope as Madhesi forces mellowed and abandoned extreme measures of protest to champion their cause.
The year 2016 brought big hope as Madhesi forces mellowed and abandoned extreme measures of protest to champion their cause.
CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli’s government fell after ignoring the genuine demands of Madhesis, indigenous nationalities, Dalits, women, Muslims and Tharus. The current government registered a constitution amendment bill in Parliament Secretariat to address Madhesi issues, but it is still pending as the UML has been obstructing its passage.
No end in sight
Madhesis will remember 2016 as the year when they waited expectantly to hear the good news of a constitutional amendment as their leaders held endless talks with the leaders of the ruling parties but nothing happened. The UML has been blasting the bill saying that some leaders of the Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN (Maoist Centre) themselves are against it. Although Prime Minister Dahal always assured Madhesi leaders that he was ready to address their major demands, they got nothing substantial from the Baluwatar meetings. If one has to sum up the achievements of Madhesis and other marginalised communities in 2016, one would have to say that they attained little besides getting to attend many meetings.
Many Tharu youths were forced to flee their homes as a result of the incidents in Tikapur, Kailali on August 24, 2015. Petitions were filed at the Supreme Court on behalf of 23 Tharus. It’s been four months since an order was passed, but they are still awaiting the full details of the case. It looks like Tharus of Tikapur will never get a fair and timely trial. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) hasn’t published its report even after all these months.
Madhesis will also always remember the time when the then prime minister Oli rebuked NHRC spokesperson Mohna Ansari for presenting a report at the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva which criticised the use of force by the state during the Madhes movement and discriminatory constitutional provisions regarding citizenship. Oli backed down following a public outcry.
The struggle continues
The year 2016 can be remembered as the year when Tharus, Madhesis, indigenous nationalities and Dalits felt that they were ready and capable to fight for their identity, autonomy and equal rights. The ruling class, however, seems to have adopted a policy not to give up the privileges that they have been monopolising in the state organs. This ruling class is determined not to give equal rights to marginalised communities.
The conflict between the increased assertion capacity of marginalised communities and the conservative stand of the ruling group to keep their power intact will continue in 2017. Sometimes, marginalised communities will deliver a punch at the ruling class, and sometimes it will be the other way around. The two groups will keep delivering and receiving blows alternately. Political commentator CK Lal has often said that the status quo will be maintained in Nepal for the next 15 years, meaning there will be no new cycle of a big conflict nor will there be any progressive change.
Although some people tried to defame the intellectuals among the marginalised communities by employing various tricks, they were not successful in their attempts. We should remember a Hindi adage “Satya pareshan ho sakt hai lekin parajit nahi” which means truth triumphs in the end. Anyway, only cowards attempt to attack from behind. Those who are capable confront their adversaries head on. I mean that capable people should sit down with those with whom they have ideological differences and try to debate on the issues. This is the method that people should follow in a democracy. Either you convince your opponents or you should be ready to be convinced by them. But you don’t resort to dirty tricks to defame your opponents.
Not so fruitful
We also need to remember that the government introduced various bills in 2016 to create ‘toothless commissions’ which were tasked with protecting the rights of Madhesis, Tharus, indigenous nationalities and Muslims. For the marginalised groups, these commissions can be compared to a cat without teeth that can only meow but cannot bite. These commissions were included in the constitution as a lollipop for marginalised communities when they came out on the streets to oppose the promulgation of the constitution.
Madhesis and Tharus want the current political problems to end as soon as possible so that the victims of the Madhes movement, martyrs and the Tharu families that were displaced after the Tikapur incident including the families of the police personnel who were killed in it can get relief and justice. Let’s hope that forces that are trying to polarise the two communities, Pahadis and Madhesis, and trying to portray Madhesis as Indians will be defeated in 2017. Let us also hope that political parties will join hands to implement the constitution to pave the way for economic progress and prosperity.
- Jha is a practicing lawyer at the Supreme Court