Given the current instability in the country, Nepalis are asking themselves many questions. More than 75% of the deaths have occurred in Terai. Why are a majority of those killed in the violence related to the constitution from Terai? Similarly, human rights organizations have documented cases of police brutality and they also abound in Terai. Why did Nepal Police and Armed Police Force (APF) use baton charges and water cannons to disperse crowds in Far West hilly regions and Kathmandu but are resorting to the use of excessive force in Terai? Why are Nepal Police and Armed Police Force indiscriminately shooting protesters in Terai with live bullets aimed at their heads and chest, in clear violation of local and international codes? Nepal Army has been deployed in Terai, not anywhere else. Why? While Nepal Army patrols the streets in Terai and spreads fear among locals, they assist with stage decoration in Kathmandu on the eve of constitution promulgation. Why?
It is clear that the security forces of Nepal (Nepal Police, APF, and Nepal Army) have been misused to suppress the dissidents in Terai and assist in political activities of the three ruling parties in Kathmandu. Why has the suppression of Madhesis using security forces been so successful? The statistics below offers clear answers to the above questions.
Madhesi Population ~ 30%
Representation in Security Forces
Nepal Police – 2%
Nepal Armed Police Force – 5%
Nepal Army – 2%
The infographics below visualizes the data above.
Madhesis have a severely unfavourable and disproportionate representation in all areas of security forces. While Madhesis account for more than 30% of the national population, their representation in Nepal Police, Armed Police Force, and Nepal Army are just 2%, 5%, and 2% respectively. Their representation in security forces is at least 6 to 15 times less than what it should be, based on their population.
How does that affect the suppression of Madhesis?
Since Madhesis are not represented well in these security forces, it is easier to deploy them in Terai and instruct them to use excessive force. A leading political analyst CK Lal explains this really well in an article in The Wire, “Most Nepalis are Not Celebrating their New Constitution. Here’s Why.” Here are excerpts from his article:
The presence of Madhesis in the security forces of Nepal is negligible. The ethnic composition of the security forces during times of crisis is a sore point everywhere. Madhesis perceive soldiers and police personnel as oppressors rather than protectors. The security forces, on the other hand, act as if they were keeping order in occupied territories where they have no emotional involvement. Protests have turned violent in response to brutalities by law enforcement agencies and vice-versa, perpetuating a vicious circle of violence. The complete absence of politicos of the dominant majority in Terai-Madhes has further aggravated the situation.
This problem has been identified by parties based in Madhesh. The fifth point of the 8 point agreement signed on February 28, 2008 between Nepal Government and United Democratic Madhesi Front aims to resolve this discrepancy. The fifth point reads,
5. Proportional, inclusive and group entry [tr. entry in the army as a group] of Madhesis and other communities shall be ensured in order to give the Nepal Army a national and inclusive character.
However, this was not incorporated into the new constitution. An advocate at Supreme Court, Dipendra Jha pointed this out in an article,
“Article 267 guarantees admissions of Women, Dalits, Marginalized Janajatis, Khas-Arya, Madhesis, Tharus, Muslims, and people from underprivileged backgrounds in Nepal Army according to theory of equity and inclusion; but this fails to take into account the collective admission of Madhesis according to the spirit of 8-point agreement between Madhesi Forum and Nepal government.”
He also suggested an amendment to resolve this,
It is commendable that the recruitment of all sections of the citizenry into the civil service will be based on the theory of proportional inclusion.
Unless Madhesis have a proportionate representation in all security forces, they will continue to be oppressed.
Added After Publication: A reader sent a url in the comment section that directs to Nepal Army page. This page describes about inclusiveness and composition of Nepal Army based on different ethnicity.