Nepal: Lowlanders Suddenly Rebel


January30, 2007: In the last two weeks, another constituency was heard from. Ethnic Indians, living along the Indian border, grow most of the food produced in Nepal. About half Nepals population lives in a narrow strip of land along the Indian border. Most of the people there are "Madhesis" (related to ethnic groups across the border in India). These farmers have watched as the Maoists and Royalists, up in the mountains (full of tribes scratching out a living on less productive farms) have battled each other for the last few years. Now Madhesi groups have been demonstrating, and clashing with police and Maoist gunmen. The Madhesis are looked down on by the highlanders, and the lowlanders are fed up with being ignored and dominated by the half of the population living in the mountains. The protests have become increasingly violent. The Madhesis believe they are underrepresented in parliament, and generally ignored and taken advantage of. The upcountry politicians and their Maoist allies blame the lowland violence on royalist instigators. There may be some truth to that, but the lowlanders have been unhappy for a long time. So far, several dozen people have been injured, and as many as none killed. Three lowland cities have been placed under curfew.

January 22, 2007: Lowlanders began demonstrations in lowland cities along the Indian border.

January 16, 2007: The new parliament opened, with 25 percent of the 330 seats held by Maoists. There is a new interim constitution, and a new one will be worked out before new elections this June.


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