The Tharu stronghold of western Tarai appears set to see the first round of protests nine months after the Kailali carnage that became the trigger for the five-month long violent demonstrations across the plains. At least 50 people were killed in the ensuing protests.
Tharu, Madhesi and Janajati groups protesting under two different banners on Thursday announced to begin the demonstration in Kailali and other parts of western Tarai from Monday.
Kailali and Kanchanpur have remained relatively calm since the killing of seven police personnel and a toddler in August last year. The Nepal Army took control of the districts for several months after the incident that, according to Tharu leaders, became instrumental in crushing the dissent. But tension has been simmering in recent days with local leaders from across the party line joining hands to resume the agitation.
Organising a press conference in Dhangadi, the district headquarters of Kailali, leaders affiliated to the Tharuwan Joint Struggle Committee (TJSC), a Tharu alliance, and Sanghiya Gathabandhan, a Madhesi-Janajati coalition, said that the protest was announced due to the government’s apathy for addressing their demands.
Tharus, the largest ethnic group dwelling in the plains, have demanded separate Tharu provinces in the Tarai. During the press conference, Madhav Chaudhary, spokesperson for the Tharuhat/Tharuwan Joint Struggle Committee, said they had decided to resume the protests seeing no positive response by the government to their demands.
“The struggle will not end without taking the identity movement to its logical conclusion,” said Chaudhary.
The announcement for the protests comes at a time when some Gathabandhan allies are stressing the need to expand the ongoing Kathmandu-centric protests. Janajati and Madhesi parties are currently protesting in various places of the Kathmandu valley. But some forces including the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party and the Sadbhawana Party have been pressing for launching a protest in the Tarai. Tharu leaders said that the delay in resolving the row over state demarcation has brought the agitating parties together for a collective protest.
Rajkumar Lekhi, former chairman of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, accused the major parties of ignoring their concerns. He said that the Tharu groups would join hands with all the forces that support their demands for separate provinces in the plains. Tharus make 6.6 percent of the country’s total population. Like Madhes-based parties, they are also demanding two provinces in the Tarai. Their demand mainly includes formation of a separate province from Nawalparasi to Kailali in the West and a separate Kochila province in the East.
Source: The Kathmandu Post