‘Madhes Speaks’ Initiative Sparked in Janakpur

By David Caprara

Yesterday Nepalis of all ages gathered in front of Janaki Mandir in Janakpur to take part in a movement to foster better relations between Tarai and hill inhabitants. Those who attended were given blank sheets of paper and a black marker to write a message that would be shared globally through social media. The #MadhesSpeaks campaign was initiated by Ravi Kumar. This self directed & decentralized campaign is championed by Madhesi Youth. Youths of मधेस अधिकार संघर्ष समिति (MASS) also supported the event.

"Political leaders, what is our future?". Photo by David Caprara
“Political leaders, what is our future?”. Photo by David Caprara

Participants were given prompts such as “What needs to be done to help the crisis?” “What do you want in Nepal?” and “What do you want to tell your Pahadi [hill-dwelling] brothers and sisters?” Written responses were posted under the hashtag #MadhesSpeaks and received a viral response. The event was viewed by organizers as a symbolic shift from self-destruction to constructive development and peaceful reform.

"I want to go to school but I also want my rights". Photo by David Caprara.
“I want to go to school but I also want my rights”. Photo by David Caprara.

“It’s been nearly 100 days of bandha, and I’ve found that many people state this as if it’s something to be proud of,” says co-founder of Code for Nepal and one of #MadhesSpeaks organizers Ravi Kumar. “These protests haven’t accomplished anything,” he continued. “When you see that a model doesn’t work, you need to change your strategy. That’s what we are trying to accomplish with this movement.”

“I am a Madhesi, I wear dhoti. Please do not humiliate me by calling me dhoti.” Photo by David Caprara

Today marks 93rd day that children have not been in school and local businesses have been closed in the Tarai. Madhesi Youth, the organizer of #MadhesSpeaks hopes to continue their movement to shift the means of protest in Nepal and have announced that they will be holding a follow up to yesterday’s event in Kathmandu; the date is yet to be determined.

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