Hill chauvinistic political leadership cashing to suppress Indigenous Tharus

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Admin03 Dec 2021, Friday
Hill chauvinistic political leadership cashing to suppress Indigenous Tharus

Hill chauvinism

By Gambhir Bahadur

 

Instead of taking the Kailali tragedy as an eye-opener to recognize the Tharuhat province, the hill chauvinistic political leadership is using it as an opportunity to suppress the Tharus

A day after seven security personnel including a top police officer and a two-year-old boy were killed by protesters in Tikapur of Kailali district, Nepali Congress (NC) leader Sher Bahadur Deuba tried to portray himself as a pro-Tharu leader on Tuesday.

Deuba, who has been overtly lobbying for the undivided Far-West province and is believed to be an obstacle in creation of a Tharuhat province,  invited a few journalists to his residence in Kathmandu and asked: "How can I be an anti-Tharu leader?"

To be portrayed as a pro-Tharu leader, he said: "I was the one who gave lands to the Tharus, I was the one who increased their access to Kathmandu by constructing bridges and I have always been fighting for Kamaiya and Kamlaris. How can I be an anti-Tharu leader?"

Deuba represents Dadeldhura, a far-western hill district, in the Constituent Assembly (CA), and he has backed the demand for an undivided Far-West province that includes the Tharu-dominated Kailali district. But the Tharus want Kailali district to be part of their Tharuhat province, which has now been restricted between Nawalparasi and Bardiya districts.  

Kailali has a population of 775,000, including 322,000 Tharus. On 8 June this year, the four political parties had agreed to create federal provinces on the basis of identity and viability. In line with that agreement, Kailali should be part of the Tharuhat province because nearly 50% people living there are Tharus. Besides, Tharus are Kailali's ethnic community. Supporters of the undivided Far-West province came there only some 50 years ago. So, it would be a gross injustice if Kailali is integrated with the Far-West province.

What happened in Kailali should have been an eye-opener for the political leaders, particularly Deuba and Rawal. But they have used it as an opportunity to oppress the Tharuhat agendas even more.

This is what the whole Tharuhat movement is about. On Monday, Tharus had descended on the streets to press for this very demand. Unfortunately, people with ulterior motives infiltrated among the Tharus and murdered seven security personnel including SSP Laxman Neupane and Inspector duo Keshav Bohara and Balram Bista.

But what is unfortunate is that the political leadership is still not sensitive about the Tharuhat province. Deuba's statement is just a proof of it. When asked whether he is now flexible for the Tharuhat province, Deuba said: "I was for undivided Kailali, am for undivided Kailali and will always be undivided Kailali." 

Deuba and other leaders from the far-western hills have not only been lobbying for Kailali to be part of the undivided Far-West province but also rejected the Tharus' proposal to divide it between them. Even after the Kailali tragedy, he said, "I will not let this district be divided." 

UML leader Bhim Rawal has ganged up with Deuba to oppress the Tharus. Like Deuba, he also called a press meet on Tuesday and dubbed those who killed SSP Neupane and other policemen as terrorists. He said, "The Tharus have been given a province stretching from Nawalparasi to Bardiya. Kailali will not be given to them."

What happened in Kailali was wrong, but the way the government is trying to respond to it is not the right way. By deploying the army, detaining the Tharus and inciting the Far West protesters against the Tharuhat movement, the government is just making things worse from bad.

A day after the tragedy, police stormed into the houses of innocent Tharu people in Kailalai, threatened them to reveal the names of those involved in the incident and detained four Tharus. The detained Tharus are Phul Ram Chaudhary, Ram Prasad Chaudhary, Khadka Chaudhary and Sundar Chaudhary. 

The government has deployed the army in Kailalai. The local administration has imposed curfew but has not prevented the pro-Far West supporters from torching houses and properties of Tharu leaders. The Far West protesters set Tharu lawmaker Janak Chauhdary's house ablaze but police remained a mute spectator.

What happened in Kailali was wrong, but the way the government is trying to respond to it is not the right way. By deploying the army, detaining the Tharus and inciting the Far West protesters against the Tharuhat movement, the government is just making things worse from bad.

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