For Nepal's Janjatis, the new constitution is just a piece of paper

Friday 30 October, 2015   |   Views and Analysis

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Bam Kumari Budha Magar

Bam Kumari Budha Magar

Kathmandu, Nepal

For Nepal's Janjatis, the new constitution is just a piece of paper

Nepal's indigenous communities are against the recently-promulgated constitution. Political parties drafted the constitution as if it was not a charter of the country's fate but their personal diary. Adivasi Janajatis were left out of the process. Despite our resistance, they pushed through a discriminatory constitution. So we reject it. Unless it is amended to fulfill our aspirations, it would be nothing but just a piece of paper. 

The new constitution is devoid of the phrase 'proportional representation' in its most important part. I think this is the biggest objectionable issue to Adivasi Janajatis and Madhesi communities. Needless to say, Nepal is a multi-religious and multi-cultural country. And all religious, cultural and identity groups are striving to be reflected in the constitution. They want a constitution which they can relate themselves with.

The new constitution cannot ignore Nepal's uniqueness as a multicultural country. The new constitution should have been written to end the age-old dominance of Kathmandu's traditional Bahun-Chhetri rulers. That was the war for. 

The new constitution cannot ignore Nepal's uniqueness as a multicultural country. The new constitution should have been written to end the age-old dominance of Kathmandu's traditional Bahun-Chhetri rulers. That was the war for. That was the Jan Andolan for. But the constitution was written just to perpetuate the rule of the minority over the majority.

What is more bothersome is that the new constitution is not progressive than the interim one.  It is not just regressive but full of conflicting provisions, too. For example, it defines Nepal as a multi-religious and multi-cultural country. But it does not recognize traditional justice institutions of indigenous people. The interim constitution clearly stated that Nepal was a secular country. The new constitution retains the word 'secularism' but dilutes its spirit by adding that 'ancient religious practices' will be preserved. It is in a way restoration of a Hindu kingdom. So the new constitution starts perpetuating discrimination against us right from its preamble. 

By retaining cow as the national animal, the new constitution has done injustice against cow-eating indigenous communities. Many Janajatis are in jail because they eat what their culture allowed them to eat: cow. The new constitution was expected to end this discrimination. Alas, it only furthers it. This is an act of gross human rights violation.

I am a Magar. Like my community, several Nepali indigenous communities have been traditionally eating cow meat. In the past, my fathers and forefathers used to offer cow meat to their community leaders out of respect on various occasions. Some communities like Tamang still savor cow meat. By retaining cow as the national animal, the new constitution has done injustice against cow-eating indigenous communities. Many Janajatis are in jail because they eat what their culture allowed them to eat: cow. The new constitution was expected to end this discrimination. Alas, it only furthers it. This is an act of gross human rights violation.

Nepal's indigenous communities have always been protesting against the rule of one caste, one religion and one language. But the new constitution has failed to diversify it. So we are dead against it.

 


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