Social Activist, Sankhusawa District, NepalJibanath Khanal, basically a social activist is a freelance journalist as well. Originally he hails from the Sankhusava district and is currently living in Kathmandu. He has also been concurrently monitoring the ongoing Nepali affairs from completely a different angle. Sujit Sharma for The Telegraph Weekly and its online edition telegraphnepal.com approached and talked to this person on several facets of Nepal-India relations and Nepali nationalism.
Below the excerpts of this exclusive interview: Chief Editor
Q1: We have come across with the information that you have recently handed over a demand paper to Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarari. Can you please tell us what sort of demand you have forwarded?
Khanal: I have registered a demand paper at the personal secretariat of Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai on Poush 28 ( December 12, 2011). I have also submitted its copy to President of Nepal, Dr. Rambaran Yadav, Speaker of the parliament Mr. Subash Chandra Nembang and Chief of the Army Staff (CoAS) Mr. Chhatraman Singh Gurung.
Basically, I made four demands with the Prime Minister. And all demands are related with the Nepalese security sector.
Dr. Bhattarai led Government is now all set to induct thousands of Madeshi youths in the apparatus of Nepal Army (NA). If the government proceeds further in this regard, I have demanded to make the apparatus of NA inclusive in the real sense. For this, the fair representation of people from Brahmin and Chhetri community and others should also be ensured, come what may.
Brahmin community is further classified as Kumai Brahmin and Jaisi Brahmin. Similarly, Chhetris are also sub-categorized as Khatri, Thakuri and Chhetri. Each cluster from the Brahmin and Chhetri community should have the separate battalions if we want to make the NA inclusive in the real sense of the term. Firstly, I have asked PM Dr. Bhattarai to remain vigilant in this regard.
Secondly, I asked him to expand the numerical strength of the National Army. NA numerical strength must equal to at least one percent of the total population of our country. While swelling the strength of NA, the equitable inclusion of all ethnic groups must be ensured. Marginalized tribal groups like Chepang and Rautes also should have their fair representation in the national Army.
Thirdly, the proportionate inclusion of youths from Madhesh must be ensured in the Gurkha regiment working under the flag of other country who are generally taken as mercenaries. If this is not possible, the government should immediately stop the tradition of the recruiting Nepali youths in the Gurkha regiment of other countries. At the same time, the government should take diplomatic initiatives to dissolve the existing Gorkha Regiment.
Fourthly, after the Gorkha Regiment is dismantled, the soldiers coming from those regiment(s) should be integrated into the Nepal Army in a dignified manner to which they rightfully deserve. After all they were also the sons of this soil.
Q2: All of your demands look very strange and puzzling. Mr. Khanal! Which factors encouraged you to make such novel demands?
Khanal: I made the draft of the demand paper by considering the ground reality of Nepal-India relations. New Delhi had begun maneuvering in Nepali affairs as back as since 2007 BS itself. Because of such unwarranted and excessive maneuvering, the Indian hegemony has now been institutionalized in the country.
As a result of the longstanding and all pervasive Indian hegemony, an interesting but yet dangerous drama is now being staged in Kathmandu. The Madhesi leaders are forwarding several doubtful demands and the Indian agents currently seated at the Singh Durbar are fulfilling those demands one by one.
I have now come to a conclusion that India has already realized that it is necessary for her to squeeze Nepal from all possible fronts. For this purpose, India wants the bulk-wise ingress of their citizens in the NA apparatus. The issue of the bulk-wise absorption of Madhesi youths in NA is guided by this malicious hegemonic intent. After comprehending this grand design, I drafted the demand paper and registered it in the office of Prime Minister.
Q3: Mr. Khanal, you are making pretty baffling remarks. How can you say that the inclusion of Madhesi youths in the NA will strengthen the Indian presence in Nepal? Can you please clarify your saying?
Khanal: Well, according to the existing military laws and regulations, any person possessing citizenship certificate of Nepal is able to get entry into the NA by meting the set standards. With this situation on the ground, why the Madhesi leaders have been insisting for the issue of bulk-wise absorption of Madhesi youths in NA? Don't you smell rat in their demands? Don’t you think that their demands are guided by some vested interests?
After the second People's uprising bagged success, the restored parliament passed Citizenship Bill under the alien directions. Millions of Indians received citizenship certificate under the provision of this bill. The citizenship certificates acquired by the Indians are the wonderful tools for New Delhi to penetrate into the political, economic, military and other possible sectors of Nepal.
Q4. Are you suspecting the nationalistic credentials of the Madhesi population? Is it so?
Khanal: Let me answer your question along with the background information.
You might know as to who were the Madhesis and from where and when they entered inside the Nepali territory?
Tharus were the only indigenous people of Terai region of Nepal. They lived in the southern part of Nepal, struggling with the fatal threat of malarial fever. During the Rana regime, there was no dense settlement of people in Terai. People from other region used to get scared to visit Terai because of the malarial threat. Terai of Nepal was similar to the Siberia of Russia. Rana rulers used to send the culprits to the Terai region for panelizing them.
After the Rana regime was toppled in 2007 BS, people from other regions began to swarm Terai. During the regime of King Mahendra, the landless people from the hills were awarded sizeable chunk of land in Terai and the flow of people towards this region increased considerably. Tharus and the newcomer landless people from the hills jointly cleared the bushes of Terai, controlled the threat of Malaria and established human settlement there.
Only after that, people from India entered inside Nepali territory for business purposes. Those Indians are now popularized as Madhesis. I don’t believe that the Madhesi population is loyal towards Nepali nationalism. Their loyalty is towards somebody else.
However, some genuine Nepali Madhesis are exception. Yet some others are more loyal to the nation than those who take themselves as nationalists.
You might have heard incumbent Minister of Information and Communication Mr. Jaya Prakash Prasad Gupta saying "It will hardly take two months or slightly more than that for Madhesh to get totally detached from the state" some days before. This expression does in many more ways than one manifest the disloyalty of Madhesi people towards Nepali nationalism. This is what I presume personally.
Q5: The Unified Maoists party claims to be a nationalist force. Do you believe in what they claim?
Khanal: I cannot take any claims of the Maoists at its face value. I cannot forget the fact that the Maoist leaders had begun civil war inside Nepal by residing in the luxurious Bungalow of NOIDA, New Delhi. They had even received training and other technical support from the Indian regime. How can I believe that the political force which slaughtered its own countrymen by residing in the soil of the bullish neighbor could be a nationalist party?
Q6: Now let's change the context of our conversation. The latest media report claims that China in the recent days has assured India that the land which is being claimed by Nepal at the Kalapani, the tri-junction region between Nepal, India and China, belonged to the Indian regime. What you would like to say on such assurances of China to India?
Khanal: China might have tried to practice the essence of Realpolitik. I strongly believe that China will never pounce upon India for its hegemony in Nepal.
Kalapani, a Nepali territory proven by several historic documents, is an important region from strategic and warfare perspectives. This region adjoins border of the two Asian giants, India and China. I think that China had tried to trade this region with India in order to appease the latter.
China and India are the two Asian giants with an aspiration of being a global power. Both countries are engaged in several internal insurgencies. The intensity of such insurgence in Chinese territory is larger than that of India. Taiwan, Tibet and Xinxiang are the most vulnerable part of China. The overt and covert involvement of US in these regions has made these issues more vulnerable and volatile.
Dalai Lama, the former administrator of Tibet has been taking asylum in India. The increasing hobnob between India and the US has increased the wariness of China vis-à-vis Tibet. Beijing does now want New Delhi to unite with Washington on the Tibetan issues. Thus, for appeasing New Delhi, China may have tried to award the highly sensitive and crucial land of Kalapani to India undermining its age-old cordial and brotherly relations with the Nepal.