Neglected by the state, Tharus announce blockade against Kathmandu

Wednesday 23 September, 2015   |   Political affairs

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Neglected by the state, Tharus announce blockade against Kathmandu

Enraged by three major political parties' arrogance, Nepal's indigenous Tharus have decided to intensify their protests over the new constitution. They have vowed to continue their agitation unless the constitution is amended and their demands are addressed.

Issuing a statement on Wednesday, the Joint Tharuahat Struggle Committee, an alliance of Tharu political parties and social organizations demanding an autonomous Tharuhat province with Kailali and Kanchanpur districts in it, warned of imposing a blockade against Kathmandu.

The committee said the Tharus will now be blocking the East-West Highway 24 hours a day, cutting supplies of daily essentials to Kathmandu. The Tharus have been on the warpath ever since demarcation of federal provinces. They have been imposing an indefinite general strike in the plains, but containers carrying daily essentials are being escorted by security personnel along the highway in the night. Now the Tharus said they will block the highway even in the night.

Tharus have also demanded their representation in proportion to their population, proportional election system, just distribution of state resources, regulation of migration of the hill settlers into their land, implementation of the International Labor Organization (ILO) convention 169 and all UN conventions as well as international treats on the rights of Indigenous People.

The Tharus have also decided to gather mass assemblies in different parts of the western plains to revive their agitation slackened by the Kailali violence, which claimed lives of eight policemen and one child. After the Kailali incident, police have been suppressing the Tharu movement by arresting Tharu leaders and beating up innocent Tharus. They have demanded that the state stop using force against them. 

Besides integration of Kailali and Kanchanpur districts with the Tharuhat province, the Tharus have also demanded their representation in proportion to their population, proportional election system, just distribution of state resources, regulation of migration of the hill settlers into their land, implementation of the International Labor Organization (ILO) convention 169 and all UN conventions as well as international treats on the rights of Indigenous People.

Indigenous Tharus have been the original inhabitants of the Tarai. They were displaced and cornered by the hill settlers only after eradication of malaria in the Tarai. As Nepal embarked on a journey to write a new inclusive constitution, they demanded an autonomous province.

Another major demand raised by the Tharus is that the state acknowledges legitimacy of their traditional ethnic organizations like Badghar. The ILO convention 169, which Nepal is a party to, says the state must allow traditional ethnic organizations like Tharus' Badghar to make decisions with regard to them. But the new constitution has not included this provision.

Indigenous Tharus have been the original inhabitants of the Tarai. They were displaced and cornered by the hill settlers only after eradication of malaria in the Tarai. As Nepal embarked on a journey to write a new inclusive constitution, they demanded an autonomous province. But the major parties only listened to the demand of the far-west province, which the hill settlers wanted. Kailali and Kanchanpur districts, predominated by the Tharus, were thrust into the far western province. This is why the Tharus now feel ignored and abandoned by the state.

Meanwhile, Madhesi parties have also decided to use all their strength to block the highway to impose blockade against Kathmandu. They have also decided to join hands with the Tharus to exert pressure on Kathmandu.

 


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