Ethnic minorities’ stir threatensNational integrity?

KATHMANDU: The country is in ferment. It is difficult to understand what’s going on in the talks between the mushrooming ethnic, regional and other armed groups, and the government. The government, which has a twin mission - to promulgate the new statute on time and to take the peace process to a logical end by solving its spin-offs - is busy striking deals with a number of such groups one after another.

And, these outfits, at this epoch-making hour when everyone should be working in unison forgetting their background, history, affiliation, caste and creed, are bullying the ad hoc government into giving in to their petty demands, on most of which this government does not hold the jurisdiction to give a decision.

The latest round of talks in the series was held on August 1

when the agitating Tamsaling and the government sat across

the table. However, it ended

inclusively, as the government

said the demand of the Tamang ethnic body to set up a separate brigade in Nepali Army would not be possible and would invite further complications.

Just prior to it, four armed outfits’ representatives had sat

for talks with the government, which had ended on a “positive note”. While such groups continue bargaining to get maximum

benefits from the government, the latter too has been using the dialogue tool to appease such groups for the time being.

In the name of voicing their demand for ethnic identity, the ethnic groups are carrying out their fight, which is gradually snowballing into a separatist movement. The leaders of such campaigns, most of who are ex-Maoist activists, are following the same tactics that the Maoists resorted to in the past — threats, extortion, public harassment and punishment.

It’s not a crime, however, to voice concern about exploitation,

segregation and torment one is forced to undergo just because s/he belongs to a particular caste or ethnic minority.

All the citizens should be treated equally and must be able to

avail themselves of the rights enshrined in the statute. But at the same time, it is not a good idea to foment unrest and push the country backwards in the name of fighting for one’s rights.

Moreover, one should understand that the demand for autonomy based on caste, language or population is not plausible since the people with different languages and castes in such ethnic states would again feel discriminated against and sidelined in case

such states are set up in the new federal structure. For example, Brahmins, Chhetris and Newars, in the “Limbuwan state” in the east, would feel segregated while people speaking different languages and Pahades would feel same in the “Tharuhat state”.

Going by the genesis of such ethnic groups, and other armed outfits unleashing terror in the Tarai and the hills, most of the leaders of such groups are “black sheep” against who the Maoists had

taken action during the insurgency for their misconduct and for breaching the party code.

Resorting to blackmailing with the weapons, most of the groups — specially those active in the Tarai lately — have been successful in unleashing a reign of terror on the unarmed and hapless public, thus expanding their territory.

The splitting of such groups into two or more, for instance in Tharuhat, Limbuwan, and other armed outfits in the Tarai, does not give a convincing message

that they are fighting for the people’s cause.

Their agitation is spurred by petty interests, at times individual interests, and such groups have mutated into smaller outfits within a very short span of time. If they themselves cannot maintain unity within small groups, then what can the country expect from them for the unity of divergent people spreading almost everywhere across the nation?

“How can you validate their demands even as dozens of outfits are fighting for a single mission of liberating the Tarai?” asks a political analyst. “Moreover, further splitting of such groups into offshoots just because they developed dissimilar petty interests clearly shows that they are not fighting for a genuine cause.”

A senior leader of a major political party wants the government to deal with such groups after categorising them according to their background, mission and activities they are involved in. “It’s high time the government called a spade a spade and contain the unruly activities if such groups have no political mission,” he says, adding, “Otherwise, if such a situation continued for some more time, the country might face a serious risk of disintegration.”

Nepal may appear to be a tiny country in the globe but its richness in diversity is vast and harmony among them exemplary. However, all that may change.

Bad blood among the citizens belonging to diverse castes and creeds inculcated by such armed and ethnic groups in the recent times does not at all bode well for the country’s future.