Nepal’s ethnic group stages peaceful protest for regional autonomy

January 13th, 2008 - 10:48 pm ICT by admin  

Rupandehi (Nepal), Jan 13 (ANI): Nepal’s ethnic Madhesi group on Sunday staged a peaceful protest here to register their demand of regional autonomy.
The protest was lead by ‘Joint Madhesi Front,’ which is a fraction of Madhesi People’s Rights Forum, claiming to represent the Madhesis, an ethnic group that dominates the plains.
Madhesis say they have been sidelined after a peace pact between the government and the Maoists. The pact was aimed at ending a decade of civil war in which 13,000 people died.
Madhesis have been demanding more positions in parliament, political parties, government and security agencies. They say their community is under-represented by the “political elites”.
They want greater autonomy for the Terai, Nepal’s breadbasket and industrial hub, which borders India and is home to nearly half of Nepal’s population.
“Madhesis want a territory of their own with all required rights. The whole of Madhes is one on this. Until this right is granted to us, the protest will continue,” said Rajendra Mahto, the president of the Joint Madhesi Front.
“It will be a peaceful protest and the people of Madhesh will give their full cooperation to this,” Mahto added.
Over a dozen ethnic and armed rebel groups are active in the Terai. Human rights groups say more than 200 people were killed in violent protests, clashes or in local disputes in Terai since a peace deal with the former rebels was signed in 2006.
Madhesis are culturally and linguistically closer to Indians living in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, which border the plains, than to Nepalese living in the mountains. (ANI)

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