Self tales on ‘unknown’ Nepalese in India
Atul Kumar Thakur (New Delhi): Instead conceiving the living conditions of ordinary Nepalese migrant in Delhi through polarised opinions or statistical records, it would be rather sincere in spending some moments with them, listening their choice of folk music and even more importantly knowing their views on “Muluk ko hal khabar”(nation’s current affairs). Despite living away from their homeland and having relatively lesser education, remarkably most of their concerns are related to the two-decade long political transition of their country. They show, amidst all the starkness of actual democratic functioning and falsification of big claims of political parties, that the general faith on democracy is still firm and positive.
Common Nepalese are now subscribing the idea of democracy more genuinely than even before, all those are inside the nation or forced to live outside of Nepal for earning subsisting livelihood. This is positive development in a nation, consistently ridden with conflict to figure out the mode of suitable governance. And no doubt, democracy would be the best choice for the Nepal which lost the real representation of its unique monarchy with the unfortunate royal massacre in 2001.
Five years back in Delhi’s unkind summer, I was new and alien here searching for stable abode in its obsessively commercial southern parts, came to a comfortable halt by the consideration of Kedar Sapkota, a man in his fifties from the Narayangarh district of Nepal. The benign gestures of this mess staff of JNU and his family on my appearance as paying guest kept me more than happy for next few months of my staying in a beautiful room facing the picturesque beauties of dead Aravali ranges. Alas, two years later when I gone to see him as promise made, I found his picture set on the wall-that was tragical for me to not see him anymore and knowing this so unexpectedly.
Even today, I am deeply indebted for the insights he had shared with me during those fateful days of Nepal’s painful political transition on the Maoist politics, especially how it was closely linked in early phase with the left progressive elements of Delhi’s premier universities. If Vamdev Shotriya was his colleague in JNU, he had also seen Baburam Bhattarai in formative days there…what was striking among his all descriptions on Nepali politics and politicians, he was never sure about the actuality of Comrade Prachanda like most of the fellow countrymen and there first time I found the dualism inherent within the Nepali Maoists!
In last few years, my exposure with the high echelons of Nepali journalists, politicians and intellectuals have grown up, yet the feeling of lacking the common men’s views was haunting my consine on a regular fleet. Last year, I was shifted to a new apartment (in Ghaziabad) with the immense help of its security staff, Arjun Singh Mehra, lien-thin though not a frailled man from Kanchanpur. He knows his arrival in Delhi by the amount he paid to bus for commuting from Banbassa a border to Anand Vihar, that was Rs15 then and another historical clue he has to remember of his early days, how the death of Indira Gandhi had shocked the India. With a pause, he said me those days were replicated though differently in Nepal by the assassination of King Birendra and family! I sensed great wisdom in his thought, infact Nepal lost that day the king who could have drawn better way of democratic transformation and India lost for the first time, “ the idea of collective justice “ with the brutal killings of Sikhs in Delhi and outside after Indira Gandhi was shot dead-both these assassinations left democracy in perils for long time!
Long back, Arjun had served as the head of Village Development Council in Shishaiyya Naya Gram that falls in Mahakali Anchal. Once, he was also an active member of NCP (UML) and still claims for his belief in democratic communism but not for a single moment he stopped loathing “Maoists” for their betrayal with the poors and disadvantaged sections. He is shocked to find the way, Maoists were persuaded the culture of mindless violence on the name of justice and democracy. He opines which kind of justice they brought through their action? Though he appreciates Baburam Bhattarai and few Congress leaders for their constructive zeal but he’s afraid in the manners, such voices are being taken as granted by the dominant leaderships in their party.
Arjun’s courtesy enabled me towards the ongoing grave exploitation on local communities in the forests of Sunsari where even the picking of fallen woods are taken as a crime and punishment leveled as high as raping the poor women by the security guards or captivating them for weeks in unlawful manners. He adds, there are no employment opportunities in the hinterlands of Nepal, NGOs are already proven functionally hypocrites and further the reliance on external aid is making the situation much worse in the rule of Maoists than in the earlier governments, whom they used to slap charge of carrying “comprador democrats” and acting sycophants of “Swayambhoo”/India. Exactly opposite are the feelings of poor but sensible Nepali’s living hundred miles away from their villages. They had never seen the kind grace of political authorities from Kathmandu, despite that they are not alien existences, but in all cases they see India as very dear friend and not likes any ditch in both nation’s long and sound relationships.
Harish Bahadur Khati is from Bajan in Nepal and has brought up here in Delhi. He drives very well, that he says is good for his profession but for his pastime in music, he is equally focussed. An avid fan of Bhuvan Dahall, Nand KIshan Joshi, Tara Devi and Dikra Badeni, he could sing hundreds of Nepali songs in proper rhythm and tone. A step ahead, I tried to inquire him, if he has equal fond for the new genre of Nepali singers like, Amrit Gurung or Sugam Pokhrel? He said “no” because of long staying away from Nepal, many of us are able to connect with the past but found hard to get align with the contemporary developments. He loves his country because he never put forth a worldly logic of relative comparisons, he is proud doing streamlining the beauties of Nepal by quoting this fraction from folklore “Nepal ka Dhan, Hariya Van/ Nepal’s wealth is its green resources”. He wants no looking back from democracy, though he is not satisfied with its present state of affairs in Kathmandu.
Moti Ram is from Kailali, an avid newspaper reader, appears in deep thought while talking about the nation. He exudes the all peculiar qualities of a Nepali in fancied dress and etiquette talking. He is happy working here as security staff and denying he would ever seen as “Bahadur” by the residents of his building. He is concerned with the delay of constitution making but is somehow happy with the growing maturisation in Nepal’s democracy. He says, he is glad working here instead ruining his soul in the desert of middle east, which is a very wrong trend in Nepal these days.
Nawal Singh Kathait is from Kanchanpur, he works in the opposite building. He is balanced with his words, less sentimental but as realistic as other three friends, he didn’t tired admiring Indian’s brotherly gesture towards them and how pious is the relationships between his country and India. He is totally disappointed with the present government and had firm disbelief in Gyanendra, erstwhile royal. In his views too, had king Birendra alive today, Nepal would have altogether different!
The views of these four unknown but highly concerned Nepali’s on their nation shows, they all like democracy as choice of system but not in the present lustful way. Next, they all have realization that Maoists have betrayed the mass belief and acted against the ethics of humanity and mandate of communism itself. Also they all found India, very dear and only next to Nepal in their preference of working and staying. They don’t know the puzzling theory of bilateral or multilateral engagements, simply the common past and existing similar life style making them close to India and Indians. At some point of life, they all want to go home, even though none of them make you feel they are sad somewhere living distant from home!
I know Nepali, so could share with them their say on internal politics, very rich culture and hard working peoples. They consider me as their “own people” and honestly I also do the same, as human being and migrant. These four Nepali’s and others I had met in past have expressed their desire to be covered more closely by the Nepal embassy here in Delhi. En route home, every time they have to suffer the exploitation by the Indian SSBs at border of Vanmassa and Dhangari…same may be the cases at other borders too where they are unruly harassed by the few wrong natured Indian security officials.
Nepal and India must deliberate in this regard to stop such indecent behaviors. Afterall, Indian government never allows this in statutory terms, so a broad debate on more liberal borders would be very imperative in sorting out the immoral and corrupt acts of few officials. Among the many unresolved issues, this is most pertinent, as open borders are the strongest symbol standing between these two counties and that should be never downgraded through any wrong process. If the Nepal would be stable, it will be most beneficial for India, so peoples of both the countries should continue their affectionate relations, which would be the more crucial than the role played by the slumbering and inconvincible embassy officials of both the sides!
About the Author
Atul is a New Delhi, India based writer who writes extensively on issues related to Nepal including Nepal’s politics, Nepal-India relationship and Nepali migrant workers in India. He can be reached at : email@example.com