INTERNATIONAL

Madhes demand leaves many “confused”

SIMMERING TENSION: Nepalese opposed to the demand of a single Madhes province block the Siddhartha Highway in Kotihawa, Rupandehi district, on Friday.

SIMMERING TENSION: Nepalese opposed to the demand of a single Madhes province block the Siddhartha Highway in Kotihawa, Rupandehi district, on Friday.   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: PRERANA MARASINI

Prerana Marasini

The Constitution Amendment Bill was tabled on July 10 to address the Madhes issue. At the same time, in several places in Nepal’s southern plains, people took out rallies against the Madhes-based parties’ demand of a single province.

In Rupandehi, a district in the Terai region, a two-day bandh was called by the Tharu Kalyankari Sabha, a group comprising the Tharus of the Terai region, an indigenous community. But they are not the only community that is protesting.

People from the hills, called “Pahades,” are also among those who protested. Ramesh Chhetri said his community was backing the Tharus against the Madhesis’ demand.

“Their demand is unreasonable. We can’t let our country be split [up],” he said. Another man said: “Why call Madhesis or Pahades? We are Nepalis and we should live in harmony. This demand of a single Madhes will invite disintegration.” At Belahiya, retired headmaster Balmukunda Mani Tripathi said it would be difficult to manage the region under one state. Forming two or three states is a better option, he added.

Autonomous states

According to the fifth Constitution Amendment Bill, Nepal will have autonomous states, considering the wishes of Madhesis, indigenous communities, Dalits and women. This amendment, however, does not include what the three Madhes-based parties — the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party and Nepal Sadhvavana Party — have been asking for — “Ek Madhes, Ek Pradesh,” which means, “one Madhes, one province.”

It has been nearly two months since the country was declared Federal Democratic Republican of Nepal, but the Nepalis do not know what their states are going to look like. And the demand of “one Madhes Province” has further complicated the process.

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