What’s the achievement of Madhesh Movement ? (Editorial)

Editorial

A decade has passed since the first Madhesh Movement. It has been an eventful decade for Madheshi who took to the streets, not once, not twice but thrice to demand equal rights and be recognized as equal citizens of Nepal. The progress towards creating an egalitarian society has been slow but efforts have not gone in vain. 

The gains from Madhesh movements are more psychological than political but important nonetheless. One of the biggest achievements of Madhesh movements is that Madheshi got a renewed sense of dignity and pride in their own identity. This psychological strength could be the foundation for political gains in the future.

After the first Madhesh movement, we got not only dignity and pride but also 22 point agreement. This agreement between the Government of Nepal and Madheshi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) was significant. Unfortunately, most of it was not implemented. As a result, a year later, the second Madhesh movement happened and it gave us the 8 point agreement. This was also not implemented. The third Madhesh movement compelled the government to pass an amendment to the constitution. While this did not address all of our demands, it instilled hope that if our rights cannot be guaranteed through implementation of past agreements, we always have the option of taking to the streets. While the street struggle is the most disruptive and a failure of democracy in some sense, a political analyst Tula Narayan Sah believes it is the only way Madheshis have ever gained any rights.

In June 2015, however, three or four leaders of major political parties ganged up and decided to draft new constitution to perpetuate centuries old feudal rule. As such, the Madheshh-based political parties were excluded in each step of constitution making process. This was the reason why the Madheshhi began to make protests against the constitution since the beginning.

At a time Kathmandu was making celebrations with a great fanfare on the eve of promulgation of constitution on September 20, 2015, the Madheshhi were observing the occasion as black day. In the wake of suppressing Madheshhi movement in 2015-16, nearly 60 people were killed and many more were injured.

The struggle of the Madheshhi people did not stop as yet. On March 6, 2017, five more Madheshhi activists were killed at Rajbiraj for the only reason that they opposed elements that provoked Madheshhi sentiments. Even after a year-and-half of the promulgation of new constitution, it could not be implemented. Of course, the constitution was amended, but it did not satisfy the Madheshhi agitators for its failure to address their concerns.

In their 11-point demands, the Madheshhi Front leaders have made it amply clear as to what changes they want in the constitution. Also, the Federal Alliance, which is the alliance of 29 Madheshh-based and hill-Janajati groups, in their 26-point demands further clarified their stand on the constitution. The only solution to Madheshh problem is to amend the constitution, if not rewriting it altogether, to address the demands of agitating Madheshh-based political parties before holding local, provincial and parliamentary elections.
The main demands of Madheshhis, include re-drawing provincial boundaries, population-based elections, inclusive representation in each organ of state mechanism and removal of anomalies in citizenship related matter.

 

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