Bishnu Pathak, Ph.D. and Devendra Uprety – Conflict Study Center, Nepal

Peace, justice and freedom must be major components of any future security in Nepal. However, Nepal’s transition is deepening in crisis due to the growing ranks of rebel forces, particularly in the Tarai-Madhes. While the State fails to deliver security to the ordinary people, particularly in countryside, the peace process of Nepal is endangered, justice is delayed, and freedom is restricted.

The migration of hill-and-mountain dwellers out of the Tarai-Madhes has not stopped. The people who remain in such places have had much to fear. The cases of extra-judicial killings, forceful disappearances, torture, extortions, rapes and so forth continue. To understand this unfortunate state of affairs, it is necessary to delve into a brief history of the region.

Understanding the Tarai-Madhes

Nepal is divided into three areas topographically; Mountains, Hills, and Tarai-Madhes. The Tarai-Madhes, though the flattest and most accessible part of the country, remained isolated until the mid 20th century due to malaria-infestation. This area stretches from the Indo-Gangetic plains to the Himalayan foothills and connects the plains culture to the hill culture.

Constrained between the Mechi River in the east and Mahakali River in the west, it makes up about 23 percent of the total land area of the country. With an average elevation of less than 100 meters (in sharp contrast to the highest Mountains in the world), the average length and breadth of the Tarai-Madhes are about 900 km and 70 km respectively.

The Tarai-Madhes incorporates 20 out of 75 districts, including close to half the 26 million population of the country. The region was annexed into Nepal during the unification period, beginning in the mid 1770s, by Prithivi Naarayan Shah. However, much of the ancient Tarai-Madhes areas, ruled by various kings and principalities for centuries, are now in the Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states of India.



This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 24 Oct 2009.

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