Madhesh has a rich history. Madhesh is the region that runs East to West in southern Nepal. It consists of flat plains and is the agricultural backbone of the country. It has fertile lands, hot climate and rainfall that is suitable for growing crops throughout the year.
There are two cities in Madhesh that have notable religious significance.
Lumbini is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautam, who is popularly known as Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Lumbini is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major tourist destination in Nepal.
Janakpur is the ancient kingdom of King Janak. His daughter, Sita is a thought to be a Hindu Goddess who was married to a Hindu God Ram. Ram is regarded as one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The majestic Janaki Temple (Janaki Mandir) was built in Janakpur by an Indian queen Vrisha Bhanu, in commemoration of Goddess Sita.
In recent history, Madheshi groups have launched several protests and revolutions to demand equal rights and representation in different sectors in Nepal. The most notable of these are two Madhesh Andolans of 2007 and 2008.
First Madhesh Andolan – 2007
The first Madhesh Andolan began on January 16, 2007 (Magh 2, 2063), according to Madhesi Janadikar Forum website. Its aim was to ensure proportional representation system and federalism in Nepal. The Interim Constitution of 2007 had failed to guarantee either of these demands. The andolan (revolution) formally ended nearly six months later on August 30, 2007. An Agreement was signed that
accepted proportional representation in every state organs, recognize Madheshi culture, language, to make autonomous states while restructuring the state, to eradicate all sorts of discrimination, to enact Muslim law, to recognize regional languages, to award citizenship to all Madheshis. (Source: MPRFN Website)
Since this agreement was violated, it resulted in the Second Madhesh Andolan of 2008.
Second Madhesh Andolan – 2008
The second Madhesh Andolan lasted about 3 weeks during which a few dozen Madhesis lost their lives. This revolution was the “big one” during which life in Madhesh came to a standstill, curfew was imposed by the state for several consecutive days and the streets were heavily monitored by armed police force, many of whom were brought from hilly regions to crackdown on Madhesi protesters.
The Andolan officially ended on February 28, 2008 with an almost identical agreement that guaranteed an
autonomous Madhesh Pradesh along with proportional representation (Source: MPRFN Website)
You may notice that the second andolan did not achieve anything that was not already agreed upon during the first andolan. It just resulted in more chaos, loss of lives, property, and animosity between Madhesis and Pahadis in Madhesh and elsewhere.