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