State that is oblivious of the Language

Girish Giri, 9th october 2015, via भाषै नबुझ्ने राज्य ,

The scarcity of oil due to India’s unofficial blockade has created a walk-to-work environment in Kathmandu since the last 2 weeks. Kathmandu has been a favorable place for people who love to walk.  Early autumn winds have begun to surface. Only the slight touch of the winds indicate the arrival of the famous Nepali festival: Dashain. The environment is fragrant; the weather chilly, not cold yet! On top of that, reduced air-pollution indeed makes Kathmandu a captivating place. This city has truly become a heavenly place for casual strolls.

Only the slight touch of the winds indicate the arrival of the famous Nepali festival: Dashain

That is why I didn’t have any trouble walking to work today. The only thing troubling me was Birendra Kushwaha.

Originally from Gamhariya in Parsa, Birendra Kushwaha is currently a prisoner in the Birgunj jail. His case is revolving around court hearings for several months. He has been convicted for a household matter and his family, neighbors and everyone else have testified his innocence. But one has to stay in the prison until court passes the orders.

Amidst all this, Birendra’s mother departed from this world on Tuesday. Birendra was to be taken back to his villages to perform his rituals as the deceased’s son. His relatives showed up at the Birgunj prison on Wednesday. The prison administration showed them their way to the security personnel.

It is dangerous for the police to show up in Madhesi villages these days. Since the Kailali killings, police stationed in Terai/Madhesh are mentally scared. Excessive use of force even on small mishaps provides enough evidence of fear in the police.

“Police here only understand what you speak” one of Birendra’s relatives called on the phone, “We can arrange for anything necessary: Installments/guarantee, we just need him out for one day…”

Madhes has been ruled for decades by people who don’t understand the Madhesi language.

For those who do not understand Madhes’s practices, this can be an astonishing fact.  The representatives of the country who rule in Madhes, don’t know Madhes and Madhesi at all. Yes, Madhes has been ruled for decades by people who don’t understand the Madhesi language.

In the beginning I didn’t know who the police head in Birgunj was; and what kind of a man he was. I requested Ritesh Tripathi, Nagarik daily Reporter, for the police superintendent’s contact number.

Thus began the conversation between me and the SP.  While talking, thoughts like “Am I doing something wrong? “Crossed my mind frequently. He seemed to take my mentions of the word “Humanitarian” surprisingly lightly.

After he hung up I thought about my course of actions had I been the SP instead. I would have taken this case as a golden opportunity to prove how empathetic police are, by letting Birendra go home for poor mother’s last moments. By doing that, I can only imagine how good an impression this action would create on Birendra’s community.

While I was walking on my way to the office, I couldn’t get my mind off Birendra at all. What an unlucky son. The innocent man couldn’t even see the last of his mother. Nagarik Reporter Ritesh had told me about how cruel the police was to the Madhesi people. “Only a few days earlier when police killed 5 civilians, another group of protestors was coming from Om Aashram” Ritesh said “I could clearly hear the SP on the security personnel’s walkie-talkie: ‘Why do you get your guns? In 5 minute kill everyone involved in the protest”. Hearing this not only stunned Ritesh but other journalists too!

Birendra and the SP are only recent events among the countless cases of discrimination against Madhesis as I have seen growing up in Birgunj.

‘Why do you get your guns? In 5 minute kill everyone involved in the protest

 

maxresdefault

Violence against Police administration in Madhesh creates a different tension in Kathmandu. Nobody even cares about the Madhesi social condition: a common Madhesi has never seen Human right offices, Public relation offices, and High government with every step he/she takes unlike Kathmandu. For them, local police units represent the country. We are in the 21st century and even the most powerful Nation’s diplomats take months of training about language and culture before being assigned to even the poorest of countries. But, never once in my life have I seen a high official from the police or administration appreciate or understand the Madhesi culture. Because of this Madhesi always come up to people like me “Dear God! They don’t understand what we have to say. Help us”

The state of high-post officials is drowned in oblivion and the insensitivity of personnel at lower posts is even bigger. Madhesi people have been facing this prime discrimination since a long time. Madhesi have been begging for mercy because they want to live a life with some dignity, and with lesser problems.

I have an emotional account of a similar Madhesi individual. I was in Birgunj in 2061 BS. I was caught by surprise when I heard about AmlaPrasad Kalwar uncle from near Ghantaghar being arrested by the police. I saw no reason why the 74 year old could have done anything for which he was to be put in prison! I decided to ask the Head of Police Bijay lal Kyastha. “He is accused of cheating the IG, we can’t release him” said Mr. Kyastha. Amlaprasad was unaware of what he was accused of and keeping him in the prison for that was wrong. I expressed my concerns. “If you, however, agree to take him to Hanumandhoka yourself, we can release him now” continued Mr. Amlaprasad Karna.

All Madhises are thieves, all need to be locked away

I came to Kathmandu after I took the responsibility of Amlaprasad uncle. His eldest son ManiBhaiya accompanied his father. Never involved in cases with the police before, both father and son were shivering because of the fear throughout our journey. For two days we faced the “go here” “go there” conundrum. Too old to stand properly, Amlaprasad wasn’t even offered a seat in the offices. His face was lifeless and he was scared. Yet he didn’t still know what his crime was. He couldn’t walk properly. Everyone asked “What did this Madhise old man do? “And when told about the IG they said “All Madhises are thieves, all need to be locked away”

The next day police told us that Amlaprasad wasn’t the man they were looking for. The photo didn’t match, neither did the names of the father and grandfather. “Eh..arkai budo po parechha” they said. I couldn’t resist the behavior and asked “This is how you speak to an old man? You must apologize”. Meanwhile an Inspector came up to me and began to threaten me that he would lock me up. They asked me “How much money did they offer you advocate for them?” They were even saying “See, our own Nepali brother is speaking on behalf of Madhise”. I couldn’t resist hearing this. They kicked us out of the office.

It’s okay Babuwa, I have already lost most of my prestige so please don’t let me decline further by writing this in the newspapers

I was associated with Kantipur Daily newspaper at that time. I didn’t think it was worth introducing my profession to the police with such mentality.  But, I could write about this. I could unveil the oppression based on caste and ethnicity. “It’s okay Babuwa, I have already lost most of my prestige so please don’t let me decline further by writing this in the newspapers” said Amalaprasad Uncle hesitantly.  So I didn’t.

It’s been several years since Amalaprasad uncle left this world. I still wonder if the mentality of the police who didn’t count Madhesi as humans has changed or not. And when these little drops of discrimination take form of a furious wave, can we reach a conclusion by just looking at the wave and ignoring the drops that led to it?

I can almost guarantee that most people who come out and protest in Birgunj, don’t know anything about what the demands of these protests are. But they still show up in large numbers. There is only one reason behind this: they believe that the demands of the Madhesi political parties are liberation for the years of oppression and discrimination they faced in their own country. The self-respect that the Madhesi deserve have been exploited by the CDOs and SPs in the cities, while Assistant Sub Inspectors and VDC administrative assistants do it in the villages.

The concerns raised by Madhesi Morcha are merely a motivation for a greater cause.

While Amlaprasad kalwar’s generation ended worrying about self-respect and dignity, young Madhesis have grown up hearing stories of Democratic and Republic. Also, they have fought for it too. Yes, these young Madhesis have the strong desire to achieve, unlike Amlaprasad kalwar. The concerns raised by Madhesi Morcha are merely a motivation for a greater cause.

I interviewed a few protestors who didn’t know the answers my questions but expressed rage. Did we ever try to find out the reasons fueling this rage amongst them? Birgunj was literally burning a few days ago. What was the reason? Why did many people lose their lives? Is Birgunj the central hub for Madhesi parties?

“Extreme suppression was seen when police fired shots in the hospital” says eye witness Rabindra Koiri “Two trucks came; police came out holding guns and began firing without hesitation in the peaceful hospital.” We heard about it in Kathmandu that shots fired by the police injured a doctor, a patiend, a visitor and a policeman dressed as a civilian”, so where are the protestors in the news?

While the country is in ruins, there are big debates going on in Kathmandu. The CA members passed the constitution by clearly suppressing a community. In the name of two-third majority, the understandings between the government and Madhesi parties in the 1st “Madhes aandolan” were openly mocked. Realizing the current situation and in fear of losing grasp of the current situation, the government has come up with an easy propaganda: ‘Nationalism’. On top of that India has, with its recent actions, aided this burning fire of Nationality with supplement winds for aggressive expansion.

I am not a political expert. I can only sympathize to ones like Birendra because I have seen their struggles

After exploiting the relation between these two countries numerous times in the past, the 3 big parties are using this nationalism’s heat to revive their frostbitten organs because of the Madhes Aandolan. Say, if you have dark skin, you don’t belong to Nepal. We are insecure from each other because of these political parties. I am not a political expert. I can only sympathize to ones like Birendra because I have seen their struggles. Birendra, who couldn’t even attend the last rituals offered to his deceased mother on the banks of the Tilawe river.

May her soul rest in peace.

 

[This article was originally published in Setopati on the 9th of October and has been translated and published by Avinash Mishra here on Madhesiyouth with their permission]

  • namah

    1. Thank you for the translation. Although I am polyglot (6 languages), my reading speed is not upto the mark in devnagiri.
    2. Now I see why madheshis talk about human rights issues and they want a separate state. I still don’t believe in ethnicity based regions. There will always be ‘big fish’ eating ‘small fish’.
    3. Hence, I again appeal to madheshi youth to lead the nation by calling themselves nepali youth and show us ALL the way out of this mess of human righs abuses.
    4. What are safeguards we should have? Does technology have a role? How do we make our police smarter, kinder, gentler?
    5. Finally how do we make this not just a madheshi centric issue? Is a limbu just as vulnerable to police excesses? Or a tamang? How do we start a conversation with those communities? Are they not ours as well?

    The big picture is Nepal. Let madhesh lead it to a happier place.