The Madhesi culture is one of the oldest cultures in the world. Read on for an insight into the plight of this extraordinary group of people.
The Madhesh is also known as the Terrai in Nepal and it is located in the Southern district of Nepal.
Individuals living in the Madhesh in Nepal are commonly known as the Madhesi people. Estimates suggest that the Madhesi people constitute between 35 and 50% of the overall population of Nepal and that the actual Madhesh area itself constitutes nearly 20% of the land space in Nepal.
Madhesh is commonly believed to have been the Kingdom of the legendary King Janak and as such, the Madhesi people are believed to be part of the oldest culture in Nepal.
There is considerable condemnation aimed at the Nepal government that they have done very little to protect both the Madhesi people and the Madhesi culture. It is argued by the government and the King of Nepal that Nepal should consist of just ‘one’ people and hence, minority groups are not afforded any protection.
In response to this, the Madhesi people formed the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) (also known as Madhesi Peoples’ Rights Forum) demanding both autonomy and self-determination for its people.
Unfortunately, the use of weapons and violence to try and secure the demands made by the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum in Nepal has resulted in a growing belief that the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum are nothing more than one of many other terrorist groups in Nepal.
Examples of some of the complains levelled against the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum in Nepal are that members of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum are insisting that any ‘hill’ people are expelled from the flat regions of the Madhesi terrain. They have also been accused of appalling acts of violence against unidentified groups – believed to consist primarily of Maoist activists.
The truth to these accusations surrounding the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum in Nepal however, is not always clear cut and the allegations may only stem from the behaviour of a minority within the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum and hence not be supported by the broader community.
Protests in the earlier part of March 2007 saw the deaths of almost 38 members of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum and curfews to help control the violence were only recently lifted.