Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Until there are Tharus and Tharuhat Nepali sovereignty will remain intact!

Courtesy: Telegraphnepal.com
2008-08-13 06:42:42

Advocate Maheshwor Prasad Chaudhary, Tharu
Supreme Court of Nepal

Born in Saptari District, Maheshwor Chaudhary, Tharu (37), has a master’s degree in the field of Humanities from the Tribhuwan University. Mr. Tharu did his Bachelors of Law degree from Mahendra Bindeshwari Multiple Campus, Rajbiraj, Saptari.
He has participated in several national and international level discourses on Human Rights, Conflict management and Environmental Protection. Recently Mr. Tharu presented a paper in an international conference held in Bali, Indonesia, organized by International Center for Transitional Justice.

A member of the Nepal Bar Association, Mr. Tharu is currently the General Secretary of Tharu intellectual and Research Centre.

In the interview below, Mr. Tharu mainly talks of the plight of the Tharu Community and contemporary politics of the country.

TGQ1: As a member of the distinguished Tharu community, Mr. Tharu please tell us about the objectives of the ongoing Tharu uprising? Your valuable comments please!

Mr. Tharu: It has become by now a universal fact that the Tharu community has been strategically sidelined by the successive ruling classes from time immemorial. However, even after the success of the Maoists’ led rebellion and the peoples’ uprising that pledged to institutionalize the rights of the Dalits, Madhesi, Women and all other marginalized community including the Tharu Community followed by the end of the 240 yeas long feudal monarchy, conspiracies are still afoot to further sideline the Tharu Community and undermine our inherent rights of self-identity. To our surprise, the Madhesi leadership has now taken over the Nepal’s age-old leadership to ignore the rights of the Tharu community. Now that the process of the constitution making has begun, the objective of the Tharu Uprising this time is to institutionalize firmly the rights of the Tharu community in the new constitution. We are also largely focused on minimizing the blatant attack instigated by the Madhesi community towards us. Our main objective now is to make sure that the Tharu Community has to face no further conspiracies from any quarters.
Our movement is mainly against the notion of “One Madhesh-One Sovereign Province” and liberating the Tharu community from the age-old slavery and above all we want that all the country men no matter which community they belong to, exercise their socio-economic and political rights through the establishment of fully functioning federal states.

We do still remember that the Madhesh centric parties had obstructed the normal proceedings of the Constituent Assembly for over fourteen days thus obstructing the constitution making process. Gheraoing the CA rostrum---halting the constitution making process and raising secessionist demands are objectionable under any circumstances. The Tharu uprising also aims to keep the national sovereignty, territorial integrity and nationalism intact. We will not compromise on these vital issues.

TGQ2: The Tharu Welfare Society is being alleged to have been manipulated by some political parties, specifically the UML. As a member of the Society practicing Law, how do you Mr. Tharu brush aside these allegations? Or do you agree to these charges? Your comments please!

Mr. Tharu: First, Niraj Ji, let us go into the facts and figures before dwelling on to such wild, unsubstantiated and baseless allegations made specifically by some Madhesi leaders to malign our spotless credentials. The Tharu Welfare Society was born in the year 1948 and the Nepal Communist Party-United Marxist Leninist, UML, has less than two decades of political history of its inception. The UML to be precise was formed after the Peoples’ Uprising-I of the 1990. Thus this Communist party is much younger than the Tharu Welfare Society. Thus the claim that our society is affiliated to the UML is just high voltage propaganda to malign the entire Tharu community.

Be that as it may, I think such allegations are made either out of sheer ignorance or complete frustration associated with irritation. Anyway such allegations, as we know it, are meant for discouraging our movement now being waged by the entire Tharu Community and also to undermine our distinct and prestigious identity that we possess in abundance.

As I have already said that our uprising is aimed at liberating the entire marginalized communities of Nepal’s Tarai. It is not that we too toe the Madhesi communal line. We take into consideration the grievances of all the marginalized Nepalese people. Thus, if any political party or a group wish to join or extend support to the Tharu uprising they are most welcome. Not just the UML, but leaders of almost all the central political parties, even some intellectuals and academicians stationed in various Madhesh centric parties and non-partisan men do support the Tharu uprising and our genuine agenda. The Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalists have been continuing to support the Tharu uprising which is certainly encouraging.

TGQ3: Nepal’s Madhesh centric parties are India sponsored and that Vice-President Parmananda Jha taking oath and secrecy of the office is a part of the Grand Indian Design aimed at bifurcating Nepal. Do you find these allegations correct or dismiss it summarily? Your comments please!

Mr. Tharu: Look Mr. Niraj, I can not tell you exactly who is sponsored by whom. But surely if you look into the Party Flag of the Madhesh Centric Parties – the Tri-color and their intense love to the Hindi language, it does tell so many things unspoken. Certainly, the Tri-color and Hindi are linked to Indian nationalism. And I see this is a part of the design to establish the Indian identity in Nepal--- the design is thus to linguistically and geographically colonize Nepal.
We have seen of late that the Nepali nationalists have objected to the design by none less than the president of the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum, Upendra Yadav and well executed by his party candidate for the vice president Parmananda Jha to establish Indian identity in Nepal. Thus I would like to urge the Nepali Nationalists, the respected CA members and the parliamentarians who have voted in favor of Parmananda Jha to remain highly attentive in the days ahead and know the inner intentions of such people. The need of the hour is to remain vigilant.

TGQ4: As per the interim constitution and more so all the parties have agreed for the formation of the Federal States, you Mr. Tharu please tell us your personal opinions on the Federal State of Governance? What say you?

Mr. Tharu: Agreed that Republican System and Federal System is well accepted by our political parties and more importantly, by the Interim Constitution but the needed unanimity over the type of federal structure, system of judiciary, economic structure and most importantly delineation of federal states boundaries geographically are yet to be discussed in details. World experience does tell that ethnicity, language, culture, geographical Contiguity and Natural Resource form the basis for the formation of the Federal States. The federal System is the best System of Governance to transform administrative, political and judicial rights to the grass root. It could prove to be a tool to transform conflict and eradicate discrimination from the society. There are agents of local feudal forces and foreign power centers who have been trying to foil the prospects of the Federal System by raising demands of Single Madhesh-One Province, Single Pahad-One Province and Single Himal-One Province. Such demand definitely go against the present spirit and, by implication, tries to reestablish the supremacy of a unitary system of governance. The demand for “Single Madhes- Single Province” is against granting equal rights to all the ethnic communities, equal opportunities for all languages, against the uniform and the equitable use of natural resources and overall human development. This is noting but a poly to disrupt the age-old communal harmony and then to disintegrate the motherland ultimately.

And I must tell you very frankly that there is no Madhesh in Nepal. The Madhesh or the Madhya Desh or the Mid Country is situated very well in India. Historical and geographical proofs do amply indicate that the region confined by Bindhyachal Parbat in the South, hills close to India’s capital New Delhi in the North, Mathura in East and Saraswati River in the West is in fact the State of Madhesh and the ruler of Madhesh was a Rajput King (Jawahar Lal Nehru, Bharat Ki Prachin Rup Rekha ). Thus the historical Madhya Desh that is well placed in India cannot replace Nepal’s Tharuhat. Until and unless there are Tharus and Tharuhat in Nepal, the Nepali sovereignty will remain intact. Rest assured. Well within the Tharuhat there can be smaller sovereign states based on ethnicity or language, we are ready to hold serious discussion over the issue.

TGQ5: The Constitution Assembly is more centered on playing the role of a legislative body than in the constitution making process? In addition, the political skirmish is delaying the constitution making. As a student of law and as well as of political science what you have to say in this regard?

Mr. Tharu: This is one of the best questions that are perhaps attached to the future of this country and it is indeed being discussed among the academics and the common men alike. People have shown deep concern over the growing political uncertainly that is having its impact on the writing of the constitution itself. National and International observers have been closely watching the ugly political squabble in Nepal. As a student of Law and Political Science, I believe that the political parties in Nepal must write the Federal Democratic constitution and concurrently ensure that an inclusive set-up is placed in all the State Organs and also provide relief measures, resettlement to the violence affected people and guarantee the end of exploitation and discrimination in the society.

However, it is really difficult to see to date, if the CA members have acted upon their roles properly. The political parties represented in the CA are more concerned on making amendments to the interim constitution which is against the mandate of the CA. The CA could have instead focused on preparing the plan of action and rules and regulations for the Constitution Making. The political parties that were not represented in the Interim Parliament look more concerned on delaying the process. However, it is not too late. The government must be formed at the earliest, with that the beginning to writing the constitution must be initiated.

The Political parties in Nepal seem to have forgotten a very simple fact and that is to abide by the rules of the game…when defeated they must accept the result. However, they are not doing this. This is the root cause of the current political skirmish.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Paintings and dances on Krishna's day

Courtesy: The Kathmandu Post
25 August 2008

“Astimki and Paiya Sakhya Dance,” a one-day workshop based on the ethnic culture of Tharu people was carried out by Sutra, Alternative Art Group, at Nepal Art Council, Babar Mahal this past Saturday evening.

The workshop held the live sketching of Astimki painting, a special form of Mithila art, which is drawn particularly on the day of Krishna Janma Astami (birthday of Lord Krishna).

“Since today is Krishna Janma Astami, we thought it was the perfect time to introduce this rich Tharu culture,” informed Ashok Tharu, resource person of the workshop. “It is one of the major aspects of Tharu folklore, which is still unknown to many urbanites.”

According to him, this unique cultural heritage is yet to transcend the narrow borders of Tharu community and reach broader audiences.
“Rather unfortunately, this painting is limited to some specific places like Dang, Bardia, Banke, Kailali, to name a few,” Manish Lal Shrestha, artist and coordinator of Sutra, remarked as he agreed with Ashok.

To have organizers say, the artists, who paint Astimki, observe fasting throughout the day. They break their fast in dusk and worship the Astimki painting. Worshipping is followed by celebration and Paiya Sakhya dance.

The workshop was wrapped up with Paiya Sakhya dance by the special dancers from the Tharu community.

Evolution of Tharus took place right in Nepal’s Dang-Deukhuri valley

Courtesy: Telegraphnepal.com
2008-08-20 08:41:59

Mr. Mahesh Tharu, now a Constitutional Assembly member was a former State minister for Local Development. He has also served as an associate professor in the past at the Mahendra Multiple Campus, Dang district.
He has several books to his credit.

Mr. Chaudhary is the author of the books “Madhesh Kahan Cha” and “Nepali Tarai Ra Teska Bhumi Putra Haru”. In line for publications are “Scientific study of the Tharu Language”, “Historical Study of Dang and the Tharu Community”.

Mr. Tharu is basically a research scholar whose articles are taken in good taste by the Nepali academicians though some would like to differ with his contentions.
Last week, we approached this suave research scholar for a tête-à-tête on contemporary political events unfolding in Nepal and also on some issues related with his community.
Follows the Telegraph’s interview with Mr. Chaudhary-Editor.

TGQ1: With the so-called “Unholy Alliance” between the Nepali Congress, UML and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum coming to an abrupt end how could it be that the alliance between the Maoists, UML and the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum all of a sudden become a Holy one? How do you see the Maoists politics proceeding after the party of the ex-rebels coming to the mainstream?

Mr. Chaudhary: It is completely an apolitical allegation on the part of the Maoists’ to claim that the NC-UML-MJF alliances as to have been an unholy one. The alliance was formed to win the election for their common candidate for the post of the president. Except the Maoists and the NCP-Unity center, the rest of the communist parties in the Constituent Assembly had in fact voted in favor of Dr. Ram Baran Yadav as the country’s first president ever.

Now, no alliance as such could be seen or can be interpreted in the manner it is being done by the Maoists and the likes. The Maoists or the MJF (Madhesi Janadhikar Forum) none of the parties in the alliance are involved in a violent conflict, they have in fact abandoned violence and accepted the politics of consensus and have been jointly taking initiatives in the nation building process and institutionalizing democracy. Thus, any political alliance between the political parties represented in the CA can not be called an unholy alliance.

Nevertheless, the alliance that is formed among two parties having two different objectives, such as one of them if engaged in violent conflict and the other adopting democratic principles, could be interpreted as being an unholy one.
The Maoists are in the mainstream politics now, though they have their own armed men in the cantonments and the effective management of them is yet to be accomplished. The Maoists paramilitary outfit the Young Communist league (YCL) is still to be tamed properly and that is why people are still suspecting the Maoists. However, we know that the offshoot of the violent conflict will remain for some time to come until it takes few more time to a complete end. If the Maoists change their behavior which they must do, then there is no second opinion that the Maoists will become most-liked party by the people of this country. But we cannot continue suspecting the Maoists.

TGQ2: The majority of Nepalese people voted in favor of the communist parties. Nevertheless, communist parties seem always divided under one pretext or the other. What is in fact the reason behind the differences between these parties? What say you for the possibility of the broader communist unity?

Mr. Chaudhary: One Communist, One Thought, One Ideology, One Belief, these are all but a centralized way of thinking as is found in an unitary State. Yes, there is the Communists’ majority in the country, more than 60 per cent of the population has voted in favor of the communist parties in the last CA election, nevertheless, in a pluralistic society like ours we cannot simply impose one communist ideology. These are only but natural phenomenon that in the course of time polarization in and among the Communists themselves are observed. Comrade Mohan Bikram Singh, the leader of the NCP-Mashal is still partially underground. The ex-general secretary of the NCP-UML, Comrade Madan Bhandari when forwarded the idea of Peoples’ Multiparty Democracy was alleged as a rightist by many communist leaders. The Maoist- the radical communist party, launched a violent revolt and practiced their ideals right here in the country. Nevertheless, the Maoists after more than a decade long revolt well contemplated that in the changing global and local political situation bullets are not best choices to come to power in Nepal.

The UML nevertheless, always believed that competitive politics is the only way to come to power in Nepal. Democratic polity, peaceful revolt to capture the state, followed by implementing plans and strategies based on Peoples’ Multiparty Democracy and to achieve the final goal of total Communism, this UML roadmap is in fact flawless. The peaceful revolt of 1990 and then the movement of 2004-2005, we have experienced have brought the communists to power. Now it is being talked that the Maoists are ready to give up to the ideals of Maoism and Prachanda-Path.
However, we have to learn a lot from the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The Great Proletarian Chinese Cultural Revolution launched by none other than Chairman Mao Tse Dung from 1966 to 1976 is said to have pushed China back to 100 years development wise. Nevertheless, the Chinese communists realized that they had indeed made a blunder. The state of the NCP-Maoists- the radicals, is very similar to that of the Chinese Communists thus quite rightly the Maoists seemed to have understood the flaws they have committed so far. The Maoists have thus indirectly adopted the principles of Peoples’ Multiparty Democracy propounded by Comrade late Madan Bhandari.
Having said all these, I can not completely ridicule the idea of broader communist unity though it would be a task equivalent to climbing a mountain.

TGQ3: The last government that included the Maoists, had signed an agreement with the then Madhesi alliance. How has the agreement undermined the rights of the Tharu Community? What say you to the Madhesi parties who have been propagating the One Madhesh demand?

Mr. Chaudhary: The Maoist party is not guided by the principles of materialism; the Maoists are instead guided by the Hindu Religious texts written by sage Manu in ancient times who later compiled his observations which is called today as Manu Smriti---which claims Nepal as Madhesh. Thus the Maoists called the Tarai as Madhesh except for five districts- the Tharuwan and Inner Madhesh.

In the Rana Period (AD 1888), while dividing the districts, the Tarai Administration was converted into the Madhesh administration. This is the only time when the then rulers had recognized the Tarai as Madhesh.

Nevertheless, in the Janga Bahadur period there were eight Tarai courts, in the Dev Shumsher period there were Tarai Postal Services and in the period of Chandra Shumser as the ruler of Nepal, 13 districts of Tarai had a single Court called as “13-Tarai Court”. Such evidences are enough to prove that there is no Madhesh in Nepal, there is only but the Tarai. Even after 1957(2007 B.S) the word Tarai was used frequently not Madhesh.

The demands for equal treatment, proportional representation, Nepali citizenship certificates to the Madhesi community and the recognition of Hindi Language and after 1990 demanding a separate autonomous State of Madhesh are all but illegal and irrelevant demands.

In fact even in the present day India, there is no Madhesh as such which, even if that exist at all, has been well replaced by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, thus to raise the demand for a separate Madhesh in Nepal seems illogical and inappropriate to me.
Nepal is no more the land of Hindus because the Interim Constitution has declared the country a secular state and thus all contradicting constitutional provisions becomes null and void after this declaration.

The 2002 census indicates that there are 19 % Madhesis in the Tarai---among which Brahman-Kshetri makes 1.9 %; Middle Caste is 12.9 %; and Madhesi Dalits 4.7 %. Similarly, the indigenous people of the Tarai are 9.8 % and Religious minorities 4.3 %. Nevertheless, the Indigenous people of the Tarai and Religious minorities do not fall into the Madhesi category. Visibly, the Madhesi community is in a state of minority in the Tarai, thus there is no question of declaring the Tarai as Madhesh. As far as sovereignty of Madhesi population is concerned, the ILO 169 and the UN has instead granted sovereignty to the Indigenous and other minorities not to the immigrants.

This realty is slowly but surely being understood by the Indigenous and other minorities of the Tarai thus in the long run the Madhesi political parties will be the losers.

TGQ4: You Mr. Chaudhary as a member of the CA which type of constitution you foresee could at best restructure the State in the entire.

Mr. Chaudhary: A constitution is in fact the laws governing the entire nation. Thus the constitution that we are going to make must assure that the National interests are preserved. Our power is our National Unity and territorial Integrity which we cannot forget—thus this must be guaranteed. Then the Constitution should ensure all economic, social, political, cultural, regional, caste and gender based discriminations are not there any more. An inclusive, equal, democratic and rights based constitution is the need of the hour.

What models are there in existence internationally—we do not know in fact. We seek the international support in this regard as well. There are numerous states and thus each of them have their own constitution, and we need to study the situation of a country which has very similar condition to our own.

TGQ5: Mr. Chaudhary, you as a scholar/researcher who have been involved in tracing the history of the Tharu community make the claim that Tharus are merely the subset of the Madhesi Community? Please tell our readers in detail what is wrong with this Madhesi perception and what evidences you can provide to establish that the Tharus were the indigenous people of the Tarai?

Mr. Chaudhary: Whether they are the materialists who believe that the entire human kind is the gift of nature or the spiritualists who believe in mythology and think humankind is the gift of god, in common all believe that all human beings are the same.

However, as per the place of origin and the development of a particular society we see that there are considerable differences among various people. Thus to believe that the Tharus who are the indigenous people of the Tarai and the Madhesi who have migrated from some where else, belong to the same set is like comparing “the Elephant and the Elephant Brand Slippers”.

The fact is that the Tharus belong to the Astro-Asian race and the Madhesis belong to the Caucasian race, sometimes called the Caucasoids. There is no division of caste and discrimination in and among the Tharus as per an individual’s birth, which is in contrary very common in the Madhesi community and also there is rampant discrimination in the Madhesi community bestowed upon by the Hindu System of Caste.
How can the Tharus who have been living in the Churey and Tarai region of Nepal since medieval times be compared with the Madhesis who have recently migrated from India’s Madhya Desh or the Madhya Pradesh or the Middle country? The Tharus are the agrarian people and the Madhesis, Marwaris and Baniya are involved in business activities. Anthropologists say that “Culturally, however, the term denotes an inferior place, this image of the Tarai could have been originally linked to its deadly Malarial and relatively uncivilized environment. Such a division is also reflected in the demographic division, particularly in terms of ethnic power structure and control. Joshi, B.L. and Rose, L.E. (1966:10) accurately note that the most important group numerically, socially, and politically in much of Nepal is composed of Indo-Aryans: Migrants from the plain as well as hill areas of northern India. They inhabit the more fertile lower hills, river, valleys and plains. The second major group consists of communities of Mongolian origin which inhabit the higher hills from the West to the East (also see Kaplan 1970). A third and much smaller stratum comprise a number of tribal communities such as the Tharus and the Dhimals of the Tarai, they may be remnants of indigenous communities whose habitation predates the advent of Indo-Aryan and Mongolian elements. (Shrestha, N.R. 1990:166).

Similarly, a news printed in the Times of India (29 December, 1987) quoting the then anthropologists of India indicated that the early man lived in the Himalayas and just below the Himalayas. Bryan Hudson, Dr. Ram Nivas Pandey and the great Nepalese Historian Babu Ram Acharya held that the early man to have lived in the Himalayas and below the Himalayas were none other than the Tharus. Thus the Tharu community is the oldest inhabitants of Nepal.

Now I would like to draw your attention to the Chronological table or the Geological Time scale. More than 280 million years back, the Mahabharat range was formed from the middle of the Tethys Ocean in the Permian period. Later, 145 million years after in the cretaceous period the Himalayas- the youngest mountain range were formed in the cretaceous. Finally in the third phase, almost 14 million years back the Churey range was formed in the Pliocene period. After the formation of the Chure Range, Gudrun Corvinus(1996) believed that the Dang-Deukhari Valley and the Sat-Pati Area of Nawalparasi all of a sudden emerged from the ocean. Until then, neither the plains of Sindh-Ganga nor Nepal’s Tarai east of Bara, Parsa districts were formed---they were all in fact under the water.

Friedrich Engles in his unfinished essay entitled “The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man”, has indicated that in the Tertiary Period of the Cenogoic Era as some parts of the Equatorial region was under the Indian Ocean, water from the plains of the Sindh-Ganges started to flow towards the Bay of Bengal which is the eastern part of the South Asian Region, and the process of drying of water started from the Western Sindh towards the east.

I would here like to stress with examples that before this period there were already human settlements in the Churey region of Nepal. Dr. Gudrun Corvinus in her report (Report on the work done in the Project of Quaternary and Prehistoric Studies in Nepal 1990:1) mentioned that, “…the first two years period were mainly exploratory work to determine the extent of work of the project and above all make the basic studies in the projected field of investigation. It was a two-fold aim; one more geologically oriented and the other more prehistorically oriented yet connected with each other by the fact that the period of the Siwalik’s preceding period of the prehistoric investigations and that during the early Siwalik period the earliest possible ancestor of man, Ramapithicus lived”. She writes further in her report-2002 “Middle Paleolithic sites are not as common in the Indian Peninsula as the earlier and the later industries. This is also the case in Nepal. The site of Arjun 3 in the Deukhuri valley in the western Nepal is the only site with a Middle Paleolithic industry discovered in over 15 years of works in Nepal”.

A research project to study the pollen deposits of ancient plants by Dr. N. Awasthi and M. Prasad of the Birbal Sahrai Institute of Deheradun (India) and Dr. Sarkar from the Poleo Botany Institute in Lucknow in the Surai Location between Deukhuri Valley and the Kapilbastu district, indicates that the climatic condition in the area in ancient times was more humid than today that is more monsoon dependent. They mentioned that there used to be 200 days of heavy rainfall per year in those times. The plants found in these areas are similar to those found in Assam and Kerela of India. G. Corvinus has termed the flora and fauna from these areas as being those from the Paleolithic Age. The climate was friendly for plants animals and humans, which indicates that the Tharus were evolved right in the valley. Later as the water in the Sindh-Ganga started to dry up the Tharus started to settle in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other parts of the Subcontinent but they never quit their birth place that is the Churey and the Tarai.

The word Tarai, which is derived from Persian means “damp” and appropriately describes its hot and humid climatic condition. The land formed after the drying of water-the marshy area is in fact the land of the Tharus. The northern part of the Jambu Dweep-the snow clapped mountains, east of the Kangada River up to Sikkim-Bhutan, are in fact the land of the Tharus. However, I strictly oppose to the views that the Tharus in fact migrated from Rajasthan in the 12th Century after being attacked by the Muslim invaders. This claim holds no water. Nevertheless, people from the Madhya Desh of the ancient India (Buddha era, 500 B.C) started migrating towards the north, thus they are called the Madhesis.

For the Tharu community, Madhesis are those who have migrated from the South

Courtesy: Telegraphnepal.com
2008-02-26 20:21:57

Narendra Kumar Chaudhary, Member of Parliament/Central Committee Member RPP-Rana

Narendra Kumar Chaudhary is not an entirely new name for the regular readers of this weekly. Mr. Chaudhary until recently was the chairman of the Tharu Welfare Committee. At the moment he is the Central Committee member of the RPP-Rana faction and the member of the Interim Parliament.

Mr. Chaudhary is bestowed upon with the duty of looking into the issues and the problems of the Madhesh and the Madhesis by his mother party. Below the results-ed

TGQ1: How you look into the Terai unrest?
Mr. Chaudhary: The Terai has been exploited since ages.In my opinion, even after the restoration of democratic order in 1950, the Tarai people continued to be exploited by the ruling elites. They have never been given a chance and opportunity to bring them in the main stream by the ruling elites stationed in Kathmandu. The fact is that the Teraians were never allowed or encouraged to be a part of the system under any government policies since 1950. They were always treated as second class citizens. The rightful demands coming from Terai were even not addressed or listened to while promulgating the interim constitution. The current unrest is the sum total of these discriminatory state behavior that the Teraians this time came to the streets spontaneously demanding their rightful dues from the state.

TGQ2: Tell us Mr. Chaudhary as a member of the Tharu Community what is all about Tharuhat?
Mr. Chaudhary: The fact is that, it has been proved that Gautam Buddha belonged to the Tharu Community. This means the Tharus are the real inhabitants of the Terai. The areas which are being now termed as Madhesh by some Nepali Intellectuals are basically the land of the Tharus- the Tharuhat. The Mourya Emperor, Chandra Gupt of Patali Putra-currently Patna in India, was an inhabitant of Champaran district in India who was crowned as the Emperor by none less than Chanakya-the noted diplomat of that time, who later pronounced his own code called even today as Chankaya Niti or Chankaya code. Champaran district even today continues to be densely inhabited by the Tharus. This implies that the personality whom Chankaya took with him and made him the emperor was none less than a Tharu. To substantiate this claim, I would suggest all to go through the book, “Two Great Sons of Tharus” penned by Subodh Singh. Mr. Singh’s book contains all the details of Emperor Chandra Gupta Mourya. Emperor Ashoka who later spread Buddhism all over the world is on record to have said that Lord Buddha was born in Nepal. Mr. Singh in his book mentions that the two great Tharus were none less than Lord Buddha and Emperor Ashoka-the Great. Its corollary would be that the entire region of Terai was basically a Tharuhat but not Madhesh.

TGQ3: What is the current debate of Terai as Tharuhat but not Madhesh?
Mr. Chaudhary: As to the issue of Madhesh/Tharuhat and Terai, intellectual debates are always a welcome move. I am happy to note that your newspaper became a platform for such a debate. However, let me put the things in right perspective.
From the Southern plains, people those who gradually migrated to this area and settled for good began to call themselves as Madhesis. We the Tharus used to call such migrants as Deshi or Bazi. After the Sugauli treaty in 1816, and further later when the British-India handed over some territories back to Nepal, which created a New Nepal what it is today, thus the people residing in these areas became all Nepalese but not the Indians. Those who are residing in this area since long time must not be seen and taken otherwise. Now coming to the debate of Madhesh and Tharuhat, I would say that the identities of the Tharus must be accepted by all. We stand for an identity but not for waging an unnecessary debate or fight over an issue that if prolonged might weaken us all.

TGQ4: How can the debate be solved?
Mr. Chaudhary: In my view, the word Madhesh and Madheshi must be redefined first because in the present context, these two words do not include the Tharus and other indigenous people living in the same Terai plains. To the Tharus, Madhesh and the Madhesis mean those who migrated from South. There is this confusion which demands redefining of these two specific words. As regards this debate, I feel strongly that all we both demand from the state is our respective identities. We can sort out our differences, if any, amicably. We both must come closer and fight with the state for the formation of a federal structure in our area and it should be one and only one federal state wherein we both can live peacefully. Frankly speaking, we both possess some similarities on matters of livelihood, language and some of our traditions have intermingled with each other. This aspect can’t be dismissed. We must live together.

TGQ5: Talks of unity among the various factions of the RPP have surfaced of late, what is the latest view of your party for such unification. What is your personal opinion?
Mr. Chaudhary: As a RPP central committee member, the party has not yet officially decided on the unification matters. However, as regards matters of unification in my opinion the Surya Bahadur Thapa led RJP must be brought back to the mother party. If this does not happen it would be most unfortunate for us all the liberal forces.
The need of the hour is unity among and between the liberal/nationalist/democratic forces for obvious political reasons. Even the cadres in both the camps to the best of my knowledge appear to be in a mood to unify. If this does happen the strength of liberal forces will come up which would allow them to face the CA polls in a much more competitive manner.