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8 geopolitics of terai conflict-why

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  • 1. General Security Situation of Eastern Terai Region in Nepal: A Preliminary Study of Jhapa & Morang Districts GENERAL GEO-POLITICAL SITUATION OF EASTERN TERAI REGION IN NEPAL (A Preliminary Field Study of Jhapa and Morang Districts) Assessment by: Raj K Pandey, MBS, MA AS Officer Nepal Office Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk Lalitpur, Kathmandu (Nepal Mobile: 977-01-98510 86884 rajkpandey2000@yahoo.com, rajkpandey2000@yahoo.com, rajkpandey2000@gmail.com Prepared By: Raj K Pandey, Nepal Office, Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 2. General Security Situation of Eastern Terai Region in Nepal: A Preliminary Study of Jhapa & Morang Districts Executive Summary In the history of 234 years of unification under direct rule of the royal regime, the country at the moment is under the restructuring stage where process of republican has been started, nearly after political debate and discourse of half century. This most sensitive issue was impossible to materialize under influence of the traditional forces. The security forces including state machineries were under the direct control of the elites and deeply rooted feudalists who were resistance for the change. Consequently, large majority of population were excluded from the mainstream politics who could not participate for the nation building developmental process. However, a decade long CPN/Maoist’s so called people’s movement created some basic political momentums for the socio-economic dynamism which provided voice to the voiceless marginalized class of people particularly for the Madhesi, Dalit, Janajati and women who were totally ignored and excluded from the mainstream development for generation to generations. This is exactly like a gambling-- no body wins until somebody losses-- and consequently the new forces emerged and the traditional elites are loosing their grounds in present political scenarios. After signing of Comprehensive Peace Accord, the CPN/Maoist including the traditional voiceless communities have started to dream in securing their maximum rights in the state machineries during this restructuring and transitional phase, which is the most fertile period for them to turmoil the volatile circumstances in accordance with their vested interests This period is an opportunity as well as threats the country from the peace and security prospective. The traditional weaker groups have strong feeling that either now or never. If they are not able to obtain a chance for an active participation in the national organs, it is likely that they will remain backward forever since history does not repeat. On the other hand, some opportunists are also attempting in fishing to exploit the maximum benefits from the the transition period. For this purpose, the underground professional criminals have come up on surface. The main disturbing factors in the present instable context are mainly political parties themselves, professional associations and organized and individual criminals who operate for the destabilization of the societies. Main motive of the political parties are to prove their existence, professional associations are initiating their movements to secure more benefits and protect their vested interests and anti-social reactionary forces are active for the short-term benefit from the transitions. The so called civil societies especially media and international communities are active as a watch dog who have minimal role in the internal politics. Although, they are acting as pressure group but no one is capable to get ride from the on going complexities. Consequently, political polarization has already been started which is visible in the day to day politics of the country. At present, traditional forces along with royalists as central rightists, extreme democratic forces as centralist and leftist as communist are active in Nepal. The triangle power sharing likely to be continued even in the foreseeable future including possibility of ethnicity and cast based regional forces in the political arena. There is possibility of nexus among the royalists comprising with the traditional elites, Prepared By: Raj K Pandey, Nepal Office, Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 3. General Security Situation of Eastern Terai Region in Nepal: A Preliminary Study of Jhapa & Morang Districts democratic forces lead by Nepali Congress and hard core and liberal leftist forums of the communist ideologies represented by CPN/Maoist and UML after CA election. These triangle forces might have extremes polarization with completely different political ideologies and hardly find the common political agenda. Moreover, there will be possibility of large number of Madhesi MPs in the next parliament as there is likely to be merging of regional force of Madhesi provinces such as Sadvawana, MPRF and others on one hand and Limbuwan, Khumbuwan, Tamasila, Magarat, Tharuwan etc. ethnicity based provincial communal groups may also come up in to the power. The foreseeable political future, therefore, might be ethnicity and caste based rather than pure ideology driven which may create more complexities in intermingle societies like Nepal. However, none of the ethnicity based parties will be in majority but they will play decisive opposition role in the centre. They lack political ideologies, therefore, may join any faction of the mainstream parties for their comparative advantages rather than common national agenda, which will continue instable central government in Nepal. The circumstance in the eastern Terai is deteriorating and Madhesi leaders have recently formed a Grater Forum to put forward their old issues collectively. They will have huge number of MPs in the central politics and major parties likely to loose certain holdings in some constituent areas of Terai. Madhesi communities will have communal attachments and emotional bonds on the basis of language, culture, religion and common ethos but the minority communities will never receive expected benefits from the ongoing movement. Terai itself is a highly complicated society where discriminations in terms of religion, cast, color, creeds, sex and socio-economic gaps between have and have nots is existing which is barrier for the social fusions. As a result, in a long run, Terai including entire Nepal, is in dire need of the economic and social revolutions which will be the only best solution for the retention of the durable peace and progress for national unification. It is proven fact that the politics divides and the economy unites the societies which is most essential to overcome the conflicts in different parts of Nepal. Indo-Nepal joint boarder security programs are in need for welfare of both the neighbors. As most of the Terai districts are directly connected to Indian mainland which is security wise threat for both. And, sustainable political solutions should be sought to solve the on going conflict as presently deployed Special Task Force is an immediate solutions which may further ruin the situation. Furthermore, Jhapa and Morang are also facing similar nature of problems but degree is somehow different. The common trends are related to cross boarder crimes executed by criminals who have direct access and network to the leaders of both the countries from provincial to the central politics as they need each- others in accordance with the circumstances. However, Jhapa is connected to different state-West Bengal, where-Bangali and Gorkhali are in majority and present conflict has not entirely affected it. But, Limbuwan and Khumbuwan are emerging as a force mainly in Rai/Limbu pocketed surrounding hills. It takes decades for the socio-economic transformation but politics changes by overnight. The future until the most awaited CA polls are held, the security situation will remain exactly the same but after completion of restructuring process, the low and order situation might improve. Finally, the present agitating groups sooner or later will vanish and Prepared By: Raj K Pandey, Nepal Office, Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 4. General Security Situation of Eastern Terai Region in Nepal: A Preliminary Study of Jhapa & Morang Districts convert themselves into a new force who will play a decisive opposition role not only in their respective regions but also for mainstream politics of the country. Background A JICA technical team, including a staff from JICA security group visited eastern region of Nepal viz. Morang and Jhapa districts during 12-14 December 2007. The program team basically involved in assessing the water supply system in both the districts and security member-Assistant Security Officer (ASO) was directly implicated to assess the broader security situation in general and obtaining first hand security related qualitative primary information in specific from the concerned authorities. For this, the researcher thoroughly discussed with the concerned authorized government officials, civil societies, general people and other stakeholders who are directly and indirectly involved for the security matter. Objectives To acquire broader security related first hand primary information in general and comprehending the on going conflict in the core and peripheries of Terai including JICA funded project sites in Jhapa and Morang districts in specific were the main objectives of the field visit. The particular objectives are:  To monitor the security situation in Jhapa and Morang districts with reference to the on going conflict in eastern Terai belt of Nepal;  To assess the specific security situation in Jhapa and Morang to further implement the development related programs and projects by JICA; and  To identify the security feasibility in project sites for the developmental activities from the present volatile security prospective in the country. Methodology The three-day joint field visit was carried out along with JICA technical personals. Consequently, the planed schedule was mostly intermingled with the program team. For this purpose, the Assistant Security Officer (ASO) not only worked out for the security situation analysis but also was exposed to JICA supported water supply systems in both the districts. At the same time, ASO discussed with the water users committee members regarding general situation in project site and security issue in more specific. For this purpose, unstructured questionnaire, focused group discussion, planned meetings and personal interviews were conducted. To verify the validity and reliability of the given information, cross-checking with other stakeholders were carried out. After obtaining exact information from different sources, it was then considered as the valid data and information to disseminate to others. Moreover, the researcher also arranged a structural Prepared By: Raj K Pandey, Nepal Office, Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 5. General Security Situation of Eastern Terai Region in Nepal: A Preliminary Study of Jhapa & Morang Districts meeting with Chief District Officer; Local Development Officer, District Police Office, Journalists; Businessman; Civil Societies, etc. who are residents of the respective areas. Terai Belt of Nepal Terai, which is plain belt and food basket of Nepal, covers 17% of the total land where residing 48% of the population. This region was more or less abandoned up to early fifties as the central government used it merely for the revenue collection purpose from local resources especially forest and land. The government used to appoint an informal social leader to collect the tax from the rural settlements. The indigenous communities- Tharu, Chaudhary, Rajbanshi, etc. were the majority of the population in this belt holding large chunk of fertile land mainly for subsistence level of farming. However, they were ignored and excluded from the mainstream politics and state machineries in the systems. Slowly, with the passes of time, external and internal migrations from both the hilly parts of Nepal and adjoining Indian states started to cover the fertile land. Indian communities migrated mainly to carry out the inland business and hilly people were attracted due to good infrastructure and employment opportunity. Consequntly, horizontal and vertical migration pattern started, where push as well as pull factors were playing actively to support the migration. Hilly people initially hesitated to move into this land due to prospective insecurity from the neighboring states of India-fear of dacoits and natural disasters-illnesses, snacks biting, hot climate, etc. Latter on, during late fifty and early sixty, Government of Nepal (GoN) encouraged for the internal migration. To support this, GoN with the technical cooperation of the donor communities-Israel and USA, implemented nearly one dozen resettlement programs across Terai region. The GoN freely distributed big chunk of virgin land to the migrated communities which further lured the hilly origin for vertical migration. As a result, the present Terai blended with a composition of hilly origin, Indian rooted and indigenous communities who are originally residing in this plain land from generation to generations. Madhesh Conflict Madhesh, which historically has been occupied by castes and ethnic groups that migrated from India and termed as Madhesi people. The landowner class, as represented by Yadav, is dominating the present Terai movement and the present uprising is a struggle for political positions for the Madhesi leaders, rather than social and economic change. As the present Terai upraising is a struggle for political representation, and not for socio- economic change. Future is expected a Dalit uprising for socio-economic transformation. The traditional landlord caste-Yadav, competing with hill migrants, no only as rural landlords, but also wish for the political power at the local and national level. In the Eastern Terai, hill high castes constitute the upper level of the economic hierarchy together with Yadav and Tharus. This means that even though the migrant high casts now have gained control over major resources. On top of that, the upper castes not only control main resources-land in rural economy but also local politics. These traditional Prepared By: Raj K Pandey, Nepal Office, Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 6. General Security Situation of Eastern Terai Region in Nepal: A Preliminary Study of Jhapa & Morang Districts elites, however, have less influence within current structures of bureaucracy particularly the security forces. Their main demands have not been economic, which is not surprising as they constitute the wealthiest households, within a relatively wealthy region. They demand political representation in Kathmandu, and a larger degree of self-governance in Terai. Any regional states in Nepal will have large minorities that may potentially meet even stronger discrimination within a federal state, than within the present unitary state. Terai Dalits, and other ethnic and religious minorities, will not necessarily be better off in a Madhesi state ruled by the traditional Terai landlords. A federal state will also have large potential problems with redistribution of tax-income from rich to the poorer districts. CPN/Maoist set ground for the ethnic based agitation at their first national conference in 1995, prior to so called “People’s War”, they announced an ‘Ethnic Policy in Nepal’. On the other hand, present Government of Nepal, interprets proportional representation as geographical representation so that increased the number of MPs seats from Madhes region. It is, however, not expected a proportional representation of all minorities in the foreseeable future and it is also not believe that political groups expect it to happen. On top of that, mainly ethnic activists demand proportional representation of all casts and ethnic groups. With 100 different casts and ethnic groups in the latest census, and many groups being geographically dispersed, this is hard to implement this system and the borders between ethnic based states are not also clearly defined. Furthermore, even if these migrant-dominated districts are excluded, not only will there be minorities from hills, there will be minorities within the Terai community that do not necessarily feel at home in Tharuwan or Madhes states, in particular the large Muslim. Moreover, there will be large minorities within each state and some of the states will lack economic resources. By defining all Madhesi people as a disadvantaged group, the high caste Madhesi leaders may also represent the Dalits. Such a strategy will not be beneficial for Terai Dalits. They may not benefit from local rule by high caste Terai leaders. As conclusion, the present upraising in eastern Terai districts, is an outcome of political influence of traditional elites mainly the landlords such as Yadav. However, CPN/Maoist used ethnicity to mobilize support for their cause consequently; there is a struggle among the CPN/Moist and other groups to support Madhesi. Terai Geo-Political Situation Terai belt is directly connected to Bihar, Utter Pradesh (UP) and West Bengal of India which is nearly 1,600 Kilometers opened boarder. It is pros and cons for both the countries. The unrestricted, unregistered and free movements of the general people have further strengthened the socio-cultural ties on one hand, and also the great challenges and threats in terms of peace and security for both the lands, on the other hand. Cross boarder Prepared By: Raj K Pandey, Nepal Office, Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 7. General Security Situation of Eastern Terai Region in Nepal: A Preliminary Study of Jhapa & Morang Districts criminal activities-abductions, smuggling, sheltering of criminals, hide and seek of criminal vs security forces are the common phenomenon in Terai. Moreover, people are sharing existing developmental fruits of both the countries and exploiting comparative advantages of the open market economy as people have easy access to both the market and employment opportunity across the boarders of India and Nepal. However, the unsocial professional criminals have misused the existing system for cross border criminal purpose which is great headache for both the countries. On top of this, Bihar/UP in India, are/were considered as the ruined states where no low and order are/were under the grip of the state machinery. Consequently, the professional criminals of these states commit the crime in India and use Nepalese land as shelter and vice versa. They use boundary as safely hiding buffer state which make them more organized to operate antisocial activities that further deteriorates the peace and security. However, newly elected government has tightened the security to restore the low and order situation in Bihar recently. On top of this, the Indian government has also deployed Boarder Security Forces (BSF) in the Indo-Nepal boarder which pushed Indian criminals to move towards Nepal for their safe sheltering purpose. At the same time, Nepal is under the influence of lengthy transitional phase due to an internal volatile political situation. The general people have deep rooted feeling that if they are not included into the mainstream politics presently, they will never get an opportunity again to secure their fundamental rights from the government. Consequently, grassroots level people have come up in a collective voice for an active participation in the state machineries. The layman have been wrongly motivated and misguided by-now or never syndrome so that they are attempting their level best to acquire their basic rights by any means-hooks or crooks. Consequently, the major political parties are loosing their grips and regional parties are coming up into the power sharing game. The regional forces, to some extend, will have direct control over the local politics in the future and in a large extend they may play a decisive opposition role in the central politics, too. Sadvawana, MPRF, JTMM etc. are coming up as an emerging force in the Terai politics. Similarly, some other agitating groups, who have zero effects in the grassroots, are also searching their space during this transition to prove their existence. For this purpose, they and most unwanted neighboring guests have created a nexus to support each-others in case of need that is further fueling the on going conflict. Quarterly Incidents Pattern: Jhapa and Morang According to police record, the major crime pattern of Jhapa and Morang districts is mainly caused by the cross boarder, political and social crimes which include rallies, abductions, rape, road accidents, gang fight, killing, dacoit, suicide, etc. Despite this trend, while monitoring the national media on quarterly basis from October-December Prepared By: Raj K Pandey, Nepal Office, Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 8. General Security Situation of Eastern Terai Region in Nepal: A Preliminary Study of Jhapa & Morang Districts 2007, flowing crime patterns have been found. However, some local crimes might not have been reported by the central media which occur at locally and rest of the country may not be aware of these incidents.  8 October: An activist of Federal Limbuwan State Council was killed in police action at Kerkha VDC of Jhapa district. Police arrested 37 people from different places for defying curfew order in the district.  29 0ctober, Biratnagar: One person was injured when two unidentified persons detonated a bomb at Shuvakamana Medical Store on the premisese of the Neuro Hospital which damaged to the shop.  20 November, Biratnagar Municipality 16: An unidentified person detonated a socket bomb on the premises of Morang district of the CPN/UML in Biratnagar sub-metropolis-16.  5 December, Biratnagar: A powerful pipe bomb went off at the office of Nepal Telecome in Biratnagar Sub-metropolise-10. However, the blast caused no physical damage and human casualty. A little known group-GFP Ranabir Sena Nepal-took responsibility of the blast.  11 December, JTMM-J shot dead one in Biratnagar-6. JTMM Morang in-charge owned up the murder.  12 December: A man was injured in a bomb blast at Sagardiwa of Babiya Birta VDC-9 when the bomb went off in a field. Basic Information: Jhapa and Morang Jhapa Jhapa lies in the plain belt under the eastern development Terai region in Mechi Zone. The district covers 1606 Kilometers flat land and Chandragadhi is district headquarters where main governmental offices are situated to implement the day to day administration across the district. Its neighboring districts are: West Bengal (India); Morang, Ilam districts and Bihar (India) in the East, West, North and South respectively. Jhapa is the extremely plain surfaced land as its elevation starts from 125-381 meters where Kechana VDC (125 meter) is the lowest area from sea level allover the country. The district, being the lowest land from the sea level, has sub-tropical and temperate nature of climate throughout the year. The district has approximately 729,758 population, 2005 projection, plus 100,000 Bhutanese refugees scattered in different camps. It is developed belt where good physical infrastructure facilities are available in three Municipalities and 47 VDCs. Several sub- roads have connected with the East-West Highwa that connects rest of Nepal including airport service in Bhadrapur. The district has facilities of Information, Communication, Prepared By: Raj K Pandey, Nepal Office, Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 9. General Security Situation of Eastern Terai Region in Nepal: A Preliminary Study of Jhapa & Morang Districts Transportation (ICTs) and software part of development-education, health, social sector are also sound as 66.93% of literacy rate is good indicator. Morang Morang is situated in the Terai belt in the eastern development region under Koshi Zone. The size of the district is 1855 Kilometer plain belt which is the bordering district to India. Biratnagar, which is second largest town of Nepal and commercial hub of the central Terai, is the district headquarters to maintain the low and order situation. It is connected to Jhapa and Illam, Sunsari, Dhankuta and Panchtha and Bihar (India) in the East, West, North and South respectively. It has elevation of 140-2409 meters including tropical, sub-tropical and temperate level of climate. Total population distribution in the district is 920,988 according to 2005 projection. The district has 66 VDCs along with Biratnagar Municipality. The urban areas have good developmental infrastructures including the ICTs facilities. As far as demography is concerned, Hill origin-Brahamin/Chhetri, indigenous local communities- Tharu, Rajbansi, Hill origine-Rai/Limbu, Gurung/Magar including Madhesi-Indian migrated people are living in the district from generation to generations. In terms of linguistic districbution, Nepalese, Maithali, Tharu are in largely spoken languages and most of people are Hindu along with Muslim in minority. General Security Situation: Jhapa Demographically Jhapa district has majority of hill origin diversified population mainly Brahamin and Chhetri across the district in a perfect harmony despite different political ideologies. These mixed ethnicity and casts have mutual respect for each other which has enhanced the social harmony. The commercially viable core areas are occupied by the hill migrated population and peripheries rural settlements the indigenous communities. Communist Party of Nepal/United Marxist Leninist (CPN/UML), Nepali Congress (NC) and Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) are in majority. CPN/Maoist is one of the emerging forces. On the other hand, Limbuwan-Khumbuwan is expanding its holding in the certain pocket areas whereas Madehsi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) and Sadavawan are increasing their influence mainly in bordering VDCs. But, Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) is not in existence as majority of the people in this district are hill origin. However, among regional and local forces, Limbuwan-Khumbuwan is the main group who can directly influence the local politics mainly in Limbuwan populated parts. They have not used any armed weapons so far even though they are emerging forces to disrupt the normal lives. It was observed that those vehicles who pass through their pocket areas must keep the “Limbuwan Autonomous State’ board in the front. Similarly, they have not collected donations from government officials but recently there was a press release which intended for doing so in the future, if the central government does not address their demands seriously. Prepared By: Raj K Pandey, Nepal Office, Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 10. General Security Situation of Eastern Terai Region in Nepal: A Preliminary Study of Jhapa & Morang Districts General people also reported that Bandha, shut down, obstacles and road blocks will be success if it is called on by Limbuwan. People can not dare to drive their vehicles on road during Lumbuwan Bandha but the people easily ignore the Bandha called on by MPRF and other local agitating groups such as JTMM. All VDC Secretaries are working in their respective VDCs even in Limbuwan and MPRF pocketed areas. GoN has access to all the VDCs where low and order situation is under control. No agitating groups have disturbed the developmental activities so far. There is around 241 None Governemntal Organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) up to 2004 (Source: District Developmental Profile of Nepal) which is smoothly working without any obstacles. Moreover, International None Governmental Organizations (INGOs) and Multilateral and Bilateral Agencies-UNHCR, UNHABITATE, WHO, etc. are on operation mainly for the management and repartition process of Bhutanese refugees. Similarly, ADB invested for irrigation and road sectors in a partnership basis with the Municipality. Seven Party Alliance is functioning smoothly even in the grassroots level and they are not directly intervening the developmental process. CPN/Maoist is also actively operating its political activities and no inter-party conflict has been reported so far. The Government of India has deputed Boarder Security Force (BSF) in the Indo-Nepal boarder which has tightened the security to prevent the cross boarder criminal activities. On the other hand, the district headquarters has sufficient number of security personnel including the army barracks. Vulnerable Zones in Jhapa General security situation throughout the district is considered as normal so far however some specific VDCs are to be closely monitored since these areas are under the direct influence of regional and local level politics. The southern bordering areas to India viz. Khajur Ganchhi, Kunjibari, Gauri Ganj, Mahabhara, Kumar Kot, Baniyani, and its peripheries should be closely monitored while visiting Jhapa district. These localities have majority of Macheshi people where MPRF has partial influence and it is expanding its political movement at grassroots level. For this purpose, unofficially and informally ‘Janta Dal’ has been formed which is tilted to India. These bordering areas are also fertile land for cross boarder criminal activity operation purpose from the professional criminal groups. Some hilly VDCs viz. Kerkha, Jhiljhele, Dude, Topganchhi, Shivagunj, Satashidham and peripheries of Damak are under the influence of Limbuwan Khumbuwan as Rai/Limbu communities are in majority. They have not used weapons so far and no forced donations has been collected even though these areas and local political activities are needed to be closely assessed to analyze security trends. However, they have enforced to keep an iron plate ‘Limbuwan Autonomous State’ in every vehicle while visiting their pocket areas. Prepared By: Raj K Pandey, Nepal Office, Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 11. General Security Situation of Eastern Terai Region in Nepal: A Preliminary Study of Jhapa & Morang Districts Bhutanese refugee camps are limited in the certain areas even though the peripheries of camps can not be considered as safe since there are internal political activities among the Bhutanese refugees and they internal conflicts may occur there. Bahundangi VDC and its surrounding areas, which are closed in the bank of Mechi river bordering river with West Bengal can also be considered as vulnerable areas. Dozens of local people have been killed by wild elephants seasonally migrated from Indian jungle. Moreover, the inner place of Maoist Naxalite Movement in West Bangal State of India is few kilometers far from Kakarvitta. The cross boarder smuggling activities in this town are common phenomenon which increases especially during unsocial hours. Safe Places in Jhapa Birtamod, which is emerging locality of this area, is connected to the highway which is comparatively safe and has basic infrastructure facilities but the traffic accidents and road blockades may occur at any time which may interrupt the normal lives. However, this place is an alternative space for temporarily reside for expectorates and other visitors. Chandragadi, the District Deadquarters and the adjoining Bhadrapur are the most suitable place to live and make movement as most of the Government offices are situated in this areas including sufficient security forces. However, another commercial hub viz. Dhulabari, which is also attached to the East West Highway and commercial center, is also safe for the day time movement. But, this place is not suitable for night time staying since there are no proper hotel facilities and it has been reported that nearly 4 cases of abductions of the local businessman by the Indian criminals in this year were taken place. They were released after receiving NRs. 500,000 ransom but these cases were not made public even not reported to local media and police. Finally, rest of Jhapa is safe for the day time visit and making tour but it is not advised to stay in the rural areas during night time. On the other hand, Japan Government funded water supply project sites namely Gauradaha, Timai, Dhulabari are safe place during day. However, prior to implementing developmental programs and projects in these areas, the new political development mainly regional and local activities initiated by Limbuwan- Khumbuwan and Madhshi agitating forces including MPRF to be closely monitored. General Security Situation: Morang Biratnagar Municipality is the main commercial hub of the Eastern Development Region where people from all around the country are residing with perfect harmony. However, due to present volatile political situation, the social norms and values are slowly fading out and the feelings of brotherhood and sisterhoods are changing in Terai. People have started to see each-others with a suspicion and doubt and hardly discuss on the sensitive issues. Moreover, they ignore stranger and do not feel comfort in openly discuss about Prepared By: Raj K Pandey, Nepal Office, Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 12. General Security Situation of Eastern Terai Region in Nepal: A Preliminary Study of Jhapa & Morang Districts the local political issues. However, the local authorities claim that the district in under the peace and harmony and low and order situation is under the grip of administration which is partially truth. The District Police Office and CDO stress that the district is in peace situation but the facts indicate different picture of the district. However, over generalization of the unusual incidents by the mainstream national media also does not provide the real picture of the district. Biratnagar, being the central hub of the eastern region, most of the I/NGOs – Plan International, INSEC,WOREC, CBR, etc. Donor Agencies – UNMIN, UN specialized agencies regional level offices for this areas, commercial banks, etc. are based in this city. This city, despite some irregular incidents of explosions, abductions, cross boarder criminal activities executed both by the local agitating political forces and criminal groups, can be considered as normal. Seven Party Alliance is active in this district in terms of political activities and Nepali Congress is in lead including JTMM and MPRF have partial influence. JTMM and other agitating fractions, time to time, threats government employees for donations and they feel insecure to work in the rural settlements. Most of the VDC Secretaries are based in Biratnagar to execute their daily responsibilities. Maoist/YCL and MPRF are playing the role of opposition and they call on several bandh and political rallies. However, MPRF and GTMM are prospective political forces in the rural settlements where they have expanded their organization. Madhesi Tigers and other professional criminal groups are also active who commits the opportunity crimes across district mainly in the bordering city areas to terrorize the local administration. The agitating groups have never directly targeted to the developmental agencies but the unsocial criminal groups in the name of political parties may collect forced donations from the developmental workers. It is common phenomenon in Biratnagar to voluntarily collect donations from the businessman and industrialists in the name of politics. Vulnerable Zones: Morang VDCs which are connected to Indo-Nepal boarder is considered as unsafe due to looting, kidnapping, abductions activities executed by the professional criminals. These areas are: Padama, Dandar, Bairiya, Rangeli, Govindapur, Darbesha, etc. Biratnagar Municipality ward number 7,8,17,18,20 and 21 is also sensitive zone from the security prospective as MPRF and GTMM have been actively expanding their political activities in these areas, which are beyond the direct grips of the local administration. VDC Secretaries and other developmental activities are in status qua in these belts and have mover to Biratnagar. Madhumalla and Pathari VDCs, where majority of the population are Rai/Limbu, around the corridor of East-West Highway is under influence of Limbuwan-Khumbuwan. But, they have not interrupted any developmental activities so far and VDC Secretaries are also based in their respective VDCs. Government has free access to these areas but local bandh called by these communities may interfere the normal lives. Northern 8-10 VDCs are under influence of CPN/Maoist but immediately after signing the comprehensive peace accord, they are not disrupting the developmental activities Prepared By: Raj K Pandey, Nepal Office, Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 13. General Security Situation of Eastern Terai Region in Nepal: A Preliminary Study of Jhapa & Morang Districts rather they are supporting the local developmental initiatives with mutual cooperation and coordination with the local governance. However, besides bordering VDCs and Madhesi community dominated areas, rest part of Morang are normal so far. But, Terai agitating groups are initiating to collectively launch their political activities under an umbrella of Greater Madhesi Forum which is threat for the security in the foreseeable future not only for Terai but also for central government of Nepal. On the other hand, the traditional indigenous communities are indifferent to the so called Terai movement which is relief for security forces. Biratnagar’s peripheries rural settlements are dominated by these communities where security situation is under control. On top of this, JICA water supply project site-Mangadh has majority of hilly population and it has no effect of Terai conflict. Consequently, planned developmental investments in this area will be viable and secured in the future from security prospective as conflict in Morang is confined only within certain belts. Moreover, for international expectorates, it is advised to stay during night in Biratnagar Municipality primarily in ward number 3,4,5 and 6 as they are comparatively safe zones. Psycho-Socio Analysis General people do not openly discuss in sensitive issues as they perceive stranger with full of doubts and suspicions. People have deep rooted fear in their minds and worries due to the ongoing conflict. The East-West Highway passes through these areas even though the public transports are thin even in early evening as the corridor passes through the dense forest, where frequently bus robberies takes place. The commercial town such as Dhulabari which is also connected to the highway shuts down completely around 19:00 hours. Night buses to the rest of cities are playing in fleets and groups to protect themselves from unsocial criminal gangsters, which is indication of terrorization among the grassroots level of communities in these belts. Conclusion Nearly 1600 Kilometer opened borders of Terai districts are directly connected to the Utter Pradesh (UP), Bihar and West Bengal of India, where high density of population, poverty, hunger and illiteracy is common features. And, its direct implications can be observed in Terai belt of Nepal, especially during transitional phase and election time. Moreover, due to open Indo-Nepal borders, cross border criminal activities, particularly gang robberies, abductions, dacoits and smuggling activities may occur at anytime. On top of this, local politics is directly and/or indirectly influenced by politics of neighboring states, which reversely affect the peace and security situation of the local governance mainly during elections. Major national level political parties – Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal, United Marxist Leninist (CPN/UML), CPN/Moist and regional political party viz. Sadvawana, and other newly emerging political parties MPRF, GTMM, Madheshi Tigers etc. are active in 10 eastern Terai even though they Prepared By: Raj K Pandey, Nepal Office, Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 14. General Security Situation of Eastern Terai Region in Nepal: A Preliminary Study of Jhapa & Morang Districts have nominal level of influcne in Jhapa and some strong influence in some belt of Morang. Similalry, Limbuwan and Khumbuwan is also partially on operation in both the districts. The security situation of these areas is altering so far from the view point of insurgency since conflict in Terai is mainly concentrated in other districts especially Siraha and Saptaril. But, Madeshi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) and others are also partially active in these districts. However, local political campaigns conducted by the different political parties may turmoil the normal security situation differently in the future. These districts are also composed by the different castes, creeds, religions, race, sex and political ideologies, where cultural socks, human bios, economic gaps and different value systems are existing among the general communities. Hence, it is strongly advised to be totally neutral and balanced while visiting the rural settlements and communities. Majority of the general population are directly occupied in the subsistence level of farming, which is sufficient only for the household economy. Unskilled male manpower go to abroad, particularly India as seasonal laborer and gulf countries for the temporary occupations and women are engaged in the household management activities. The status of women and children are miserable as compared to male population in terms of literacy, health status, life expectancy and other developmental indicators which is common feature across Terai. Recommendations  JICA team members are advised to visit remote rural areas in groups and return to the District Headquarters and/or core city areas for night stay within social hours.  Late night venture inside and outside the district Headquarters must be avoided.  Always keep low profile (simple dress up, conceal valuables and act as mediocre) while visiting the remote rural areas of the districts.  It is strictly advised not to visit periphery areas after dark and unsocial hours.  Road travel along the highway and inner sub-urban areas should be taken place between 0700-1800 hours.  It is advised to consult the concerned local authorities prior to proceeding to the new destinations since local politics, protests and demonstrations may temporarily disrupt the smooth movement of the traffic along the highway and link roads.  The vulnerable zones in both the districts should be avoided for the time being until new political and security situation is restored in both the district.  JICA Personnel should avoid visiting Indian bordering areas as there is possibility of looting, abduction, kidnapping and unnecessary harassment by the unsocial criminal group and/or Indian security forces.  The accommodation to be chosen in the safest hotels as identified previously and cross security check with the hotel owners should be consulted.  Avoid public gathering and rallies at local level which may turn into violent at any time since a mob has many heads but no brains.  Consult local partners and stakeholders to identify the first hand security related information in the districts and pass it to JICA Security Team. Prepared By: Raj K Pandey, Nepal Office, Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 15. General Security Situation of Eastern Terai Region in Nepal: A Preliminary Study of Jhapa & Morang Districts  Arrange sufficient logistics and money while visiting the field sites as unplanned political activities may completely halt the movement for several days. Prepared By: Raj K Pandey, Nepal Office, Harihar Bhawan, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal