We Love Us, But You Hate Us

So, Nepal is on the verge of splitting. This is what you hear from politicians to an average nationalist Nepali on a daily basis. Uprising of the southern Nepal’s Madhesis, indigenous Tharus and marginalized people are to blame. Kathmandu based media trumps it and their base loves it.

In 2006, the comprehensive peace agreement initiated the end of the autocratic king. Section 3.5 of the agreement formulated a decentralized and inclusive state structure. To institutionalize this political breakthrough, constitutional assembly drafted an interim constitution 2007. Article 8 of the interim constitution secured equal citizenship rights to all men and women. First and fifth amendment to the interim constitution, Article 138 (1a) institutionalized decentralization by dictating specific parameters. From right to social justice in article 21 to delimitation of the constituents (154A), clearly cited proportional inclusion. In 2011, the 7-points agreement required that the constitution be drafted with consensus. This year 16-point agreement manifested the negotiated parameters of decentralization. The timeline can be deemed slow but progressive.

End of June preliminary draft of the constitution was released. It has been heavily protested by more than half of the country and criticized by legal experts. It disregarded the agreements and amendments made due process through constitutional assembly. Madhesh, also known as the breadbasket of Nepal was once again left open to oppression. In August, people eventually took to streets peacefully. Protests turned to blockades, which escalated to violence when police started shooting the protesters. Human rights commission established that police fired expired tear gas shells and shot protesters targeting their head and chest. In retaliation, police personnel were killed in Tikapur, Nepal. I condemn this unfortunate criminal act even if it were for revenge. However, murders from both sides should be independently investigated and culprits be punished.

Agitations are high, but violence serves against its own purpose. At the same time, guns cannot silence legitimate voices. So far, police have killed more than 35 citizens, have shot children in the head, old men in the chest, and women in the head. Ganesh Chaudhary, a 80-year old grandfather who was decorated by late King Birendra of Nepal was shot when he was arranging funeral of his 17-year old grandson Rohan Chaudhary who was also shot by police a day before. Nature of the wounds makes it apparent that they were shot to kill. In the movement of equality, killing by a state is far more gravitating than a criminal act from a private person. An isolated criminal act cannot dictate government’s policy provoke its own people to combat. And media cannot treat Madhesi deaths as statistics and police’s death as a personal emotional story.

Interim constitution, amendments and formal agreements were clearly a political solution and were carried out through dialogue and consensus. Significant progress towards equality to every man and women was made. The progress was paid for by 53 Madheshi lives in 2007 and 35 plus Madhesis and Tharus in 2015 so far.

There are no bizarre new demands; it is simply a movement to respect previous agreements. It is a movement against betrayal, which has left us with improper federal structure, lesser woman, lesser Madhesi, lesser Tharu, lesser Dalits and Janjatis. In the proposed federal structure, it will be mathematically impossible for anyone other than the ruling tribe to lead. The status quo will continue and so will the oppression.

Amidst the armored vehicle patrolling the streets and 4-5 people shot on a daily basis, the symbolic call for negotiations on Saturday, a public holiday was a humor of an unpleasant kind. Many Khas (ruling ethnicity from the northern Nepal) vocally support this injustice and killings of innocent fellow citizens. They justify their support saying Nepal is on the verge of splitting. How is proper structuring of federal states confirming equality to everyone secessionist or unpatriotic? There are countries smaller than Nepal, where decentralized governance has contributed to economic prosperity. There are 75 districts in Nepal. If you are, say from Baglung district, is your loyalty vested in Nepal or Baglung or India? Ridiculous question, isn’t it? Current political rhetoric is full of such nonsense. Although, nothing unheard of in a populist democratic system in the world.

My fellow citizens, how come someone is less Nepali than you are? And who are you to decide that? Is it right to racially abuse your own countrymen?

In any other country racist remarks would have ended one’s political career, but not your Prime Minister’s. When police murders innocent people, they say it’s like few fruits falling off a tree; you clap! A little empathy for the same people who were generously charitable to you during the earthquake would have come a long way.

Strangely, you find India in all your problems, even in those where an oppressed group is merely demanding equal civil rights. Whoever challenges your status quo are automatically Indians or their agents. Ironically, any history book will tell you that you are the one who immigrated to Nepal from India fearing the invaders, and Madhesis on the other hand are the natives. This is similar to how Native Americans were exploited and alienated from their own land by European settlers in the USA. The settlers became self-declared heroes, Braveheart and natives, the savages. Reading a book may help overcome arrogance. Inform yourself with facts about the agreements and interim constitution and ask yourself, does your morality support an institutional inequality or barred press freedom? Can you support one ethnic group supremacist and male chauvinistic constitution? If you do, it is either dangerous ignorance or the deliberate racism. If you choose to be an arrogant racist, you should know the inconvenient truth.

You held all political, administrative and security position since about 65 years and Nepal is now one of the poorest countries in the world. Most of our young men and women are working in gulf countries as slaves. I see your pride is false and exceptionalism sarcastic.

That does not mean that i don’t love my country. Love does not need a reason.

Diwaker Jha

Diwaker Jha is a physicist focused on synchrotron based ultra high resolution techniques, builds robots in free time and is politically inclined, currently based in Northern and Central Europe. @diwakerZha