| March 21, 2019

Madhesi leaders demand Madhesis in India’s Gorkha regiments

Republica Rajendra Mahato, a UDMF leader, and Sushil Modi, a leader of India’s ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, hug each other as they met in Patna of Bihar on Tuesday. Republica Rajendra Mahato, a UDMF leader, and Sushil Modi, a leader of India’s ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, hug each other as they met in Patna of Bihar on Tuesday.
  • Raise issues of Karnali, hill janjatis  
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PATNA (India), Feb 4: Some 23 years ago, Indian journalists had questioned then Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai during a Delhi visit about the 'prohibition' against Madhesis in the Nepal Army. In response, Bhattarai had asked the journalists why India restricted the entry of Madhesis in its own Gorkha regiments.  

Earlier, the Sadbhawana Party (SP) had expressed dissatisfaction over provisions in Nepal's Constitution of 1990 that they claimed deprived Madhesis of their rights. SP Chairperson Rajendra Mahato, who was then the party's spokesperson, recalls, “At the time we had raised the issues of citizenship and entry of Madhesis in the Nepal Army, among other things.” Madhesi entry in the Nepal Army was a topic of hot debate then, according to Mahato.

Some 11 years ago, Mahato lobbied for the entry of Madhesis in the Indian Gorkha regiments as a tactic for opening the door for  Madhesi entry into the Nepal Army. He said  he had written to  India's defense minister at the time, Pranab Mukharjee, requesting him to allow Madhesis into the Gorkha regiments.

“We were informed that the treaty was the obstacle to dealing with the issue,” Mahato said.

Top leaders of Madhes-based parties have once again raised the issue of recruiting Madhesis into the Gorkha regiments during their recent meeting with leaders of the ruling parties in Bihar state and in India.

Tarai-Madhes Sadbhawana Party (TMSP) Chairperson Mahendra Ray Yadav demanded a rethink of the Indian policy that allows the recruitment of people from only the hill communities in the Gorkha regiments. “Entry of Madhesis should also be allowed,” Yadav told the Indian ruling parties.  

Addressing a function organized by the Media for Border Harmony in Patna, capital of Bihar on Tuesday, TMSP Chairperson Yadav claimed that Madhesis have been barred from recruitment in the Nepal Army, and India's Gorkha regiments as well. The Indian government should recruit Madhesis into its army, he demanded.  

Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) Chairperson Upendra Yadav, during briefing to Bihari leaders, said it was a conspiracy by the major parties in Nepal to leave the Madhesis under-represented politically.

“People in Karnali are worse affected than us. The state has deprived people including Janjatis from the Karnali region of access to the state,” Yadav told the Indian leaders.

Likewise, SP Chair Mahato argued that India must show concern for the Madhes movement because of its belief in democracy and the open border.

The Madhes-based party leaders also tried to convince the Indian leaders that the current provision for provincial demarcations had put the identity of Madhesis at stake.

Lalu to address border assembly in support of Madhes

During the Bihar visit by Madhesi leaders, Rastriya Janata Dal (RJD) Chairperson Lalu Prasad Yadav vowed  to support the Madhes movement.

“I will address the assemblies to be convened in Indian cities of the border areas  in support of the Madhes movement,” Yadav assured them.

After the Indian people take to the streets in support of the Madhes movement, the Indian government will feel pressured to get the Nepal government to resolve the issue of Madhes, Yadav said.

“I'll also take part in India-Madhes harmony rallies and address assemblies organized in support of Madhesis,” he added.