Hrithik Roshan Riots Redux?



Indian Film Star Sparks Riots in Nepal
Protesters angry about alleged anti-Nepal comments by South Asia’s latest movie heartthrob rushed the streets of Nepal’s capital today, setting tires and trees ablaze and virtually shutting down the city...... A day after earlier rioting left four people dead, public transportation was halted in Katmandu, and only police, firefighters and ambulances were allowed out on the smoke-filled streets to put out the tire and tree fires..... The rioting here began a day earlier, when a rumor swept through southern Nepalese towns that Indian film star Hrithik Roshan had told an interviewer that he hated Nepal and its people...... Indian businesses were vandalized, and windows at The State Bank of India were smashed....... Schools, businesses and offices were closed as the demonstrators, many university students, spilled out into the streets setting fires. There were no reported injuries...... Roshan has vehemently denied making such comments, and the only television network that has carried an extensive interview with the hugely popular star backed him up. Nevertheless, the unrest spread. ..... No serious incidents were reported but an Indian Airlines flight from Katmandu to the north Indian city of Varanasi was cancelled because the crew had difficulty reaching Katmandu airport as a result of street disturbances .... Communication Minister Jaya Prakash Gupta said the government had asked movie theaters across Nepal to stop screening Roshan films to prevent further attacks. ...... Cable operators also cut Indian television channels, fearing violence..... Roshan shot to fame last year with the release of his first film, Kaho Na Pyaar Hai ..... He denied today ever making any comments against Nepal and claimed competitors are trying to ruin his reputation. .....

“I can name all the interviews I have given. All the tapes are there for anyone to see anytime,” Roshan told STAR NEWS television channel in India. “I have never spoken against Nepal or the Nepalese people, whom I love.”

..... He said he believed members of the criminal underworld may have been responsible for stirring the trouble...... India’s movie industry has been rattled by the arrest this month of a movie producer alleged to have links with the underworld..... About 180 people were injured in Tuesday’s rioting, including 30 police officers who tried to stop a crowd of 5,000 protesters from tearing down a movie theater where Roshan’s latest film, Mission Kashmir, was being shown....... Police initially fired into the air, but when the crowd began to pelt them with stones, they fired into the crowd. Among the dead was a 12-year-old girl who was hit by a stray bullet as she sat in her room reading ...... None of the demonstrators in Katmandu today said they knew anyone who had actually seen the supposed remarks Roshan made..... “We are protesting since the statement hurt the sentiments of the Nepalese and our pride,” said demonstrator Ramesh Shreshta, who conceded he had not seen the alleged interview.

He and others shrugged off Roshan’s denials, shouting “Down with Hrithik, down with Indian elements!”

..... Indian film stars are typically popular in Nepal, where most theaters show Hindi-language movies. However, there are simmering anti-India sentiments in Nepal, where many feel the regional power has a superior attitude toward its landlocked Himalayan neighbor, which is dependent on the larger country for many of its economic needs.
Protest Against Indian Actor Hrithik Shocked the Government: Lead to kill four and 180 injured
30 policemen are also injured ..... On the following day of the Government's announcement to form special court to punish oppositions (including in the name of Maoist) coming as the intention of government to handle the judiciary under its own administration. With the motives of mobilisation of "Royal Nepalese Army" against the people who don't agree the state, The fascist regime ordered to kill the innocent people and to create state police terror among the masses. ...... An Indian actor's interview with Star plus TV channel on 14th of Dec. expressed the motives against Nepal and Nepalis by saying Nepal is his unlike country and the Nepalese are the most unlikely people in the world on the response of the question: which country and people you hated in the world? This made angry his Nepalese fan at first and later every where the youths, students and common people also became towards the step of banning Indian films in which he has a role. The protesters tears the posters of Hrithik filmed, they burned the video and audio cassettes where he is. Demanded to band his films in Nepal and asked the government for apologies through the official channel. ....... During these activities there were dozens of demonstrations in capital city and in other districts like Chitwan, Morang, Sunsari, Jhapa, Ilam, Parbat, Pokhara, Nepalgunj, Butwal Banepa, Bhairahawa, Birgunj, Dhading, Gaighat, Gulariya, Hetauda, Lamjung, Nuwakot, Syangja etc. In Kathmandu where students and thousands normal citizens participated in protest demonstration which handed over the protest letter in Indian Embassy. When the rally was returning from the Embassy police ambushed the thousands of protesters in Lainchaur and baton charged, and used 250 cells of tear gas, and hundreds of round bullets fired. The another police intervention was in Chabahil in front of Gopikrishna theater where the protesters were burning the posters, the police fired and used hundreds of cells of tear gas. Despite the police control the demonstrations were continue until night and following by morning again. ........

5 student organisations (Akhils) have demanded to punish immediately the responsible

and demanded the resignation of home and deputy prime minister Ramchandra Paudel who are responsible to kill a young woman on the eve of human rights international day in Chitwan......

Ministry of Information and Communications has instructed all cinema halls throughout the country to not screen the Indian films featuring Indian artist Hrithik Roshan.

...... Even all major local cable TV operators have stopped transmitting Indian TV channels...... "We weren't forced by any parties to stop the transmissions...We did it on our own will," said Nir Shah of Shangri-la TV Channel, one of the leading TV operators in the capital. "We only protest the comment made by Hrithik Roshan" according to Kantipur......

Nepal Motion Picture Association and Film Artist Association of Nepal (FAAN) has condemned the "derogatory" comments

made by the Indian actor Hrithik Roshan against the sentiments of Nepal. FAAN has also requested to not screen any movies of the actor until he apologizes on the TV channel where the interview was aired, as well as to all the movie halls of Nepal. ...... Gopi Krishna Movies Pvt. Ltd, in a press release issued here today, says that they will "never screen" any movies of Hrithik Roshan. They have also expressed support towards the protesting students....... The protests are continues today 27th of December also in different part of the capital city and other parts of the country.......

Tommarrow, 28th of December is called for valley shutdown from 5 left student organisations including the ANNISU (Revolutionary).

The Paradox of the Nepali Mindset:Hate India, Love India
“Hrithik Roshan insulted Nepal. We should avenge that insult. Burn his posters on the streets, tear up his postcards. Torch his film and the movie hall where it is being screened.” .....

“You ask for proof that Hrithik actually said it? The people on the streets do not need proof!”

..... “Hrithik is India. India is our big brother. Big brother imperialist! Respect our sovereignty! Go home big brother India!” .......

“Anti-India means anybody looking Indian must not be spared. Is this the house of Mr so-and-so?”

...... “It was not supposed to happen in Nepal. We are a peaceful people. Riots—especially those that target a specific group—were only supposed to happen elsewhere in South Asia, not in Nepal.” ..... the damage done to the national psyche after the Kathmandu riots of 26-27 December. ..... during those two days, the actual theatre of disturbance was confined to small pockets within Kathmandu town only. Patan and Bhaktapur, the other two cities of the Valley, remained calm. Even within Kathmandu, the demonstrations were restricted to the downtown areas of New Road, Ratna Park, Jamal, Thamel, Banes-war and Kalimati, without spillover to other localities. There were tyre-burnings in some locations along the Ring Road. The whole Valley was not burning. ..... In downtown Kathmandu (around New Road and Indrachowk), shops belonging to Nepalis of all ethnic and caste origins were attacked. Private property—irrespective of ownership demography—was destroyed. In some other places, however, there was selective targeting of shops owned by Indians as well as people of Tarai origin. Stone-throwers destroyed shop-fronts and wrecked signboards.......

Indians and ‘Indian-looking’ Nepalis became targets of violence

...... but it was equally also an anti-Nepali riot and anti-property riot. .... but very soon it became an anti-government protest. Apart from those affiliated to the various party-led student organisations, both the Maoists and royalists were out on the streets in force. The Maoists were looking for newer ways to disrupt life in Kathmandu after their student wing had successfully forced all schools to close for a week in early December. The royalists who want the king to re-assume active power (so that they may get back to their authoritarian functions, under cover of the crown), for their part, have been using every opportunity to make the multi-party democratic establishment look more inefficient than it really is. ......

This was also an occasion for the small left parties to demonstrate evidence of their existence through street action. In retrospect, it is clear that the momentum of the riots was carried by these small left parties plus the pro-Maoist and pro-palace forces.

Hrithik Roshan may have provided the spark. Anti-Indianism stoked the fire. And together they provided the excuse this time around. Next time it could be something else entirely.......

No matter how we read the events of late December 2000, we cannot deny a strain of anti-India sentiments in Nepali society.

The broad contours of the history of this sentiment are well known, but its deeper manifestations deserve closer scrutiny. It may surprise some, but the ‘anti-India’ sentiment does not have a permanent place even in the hearts of those who have shouted slogans against India on the streets or participated in supposedly ‘anti-India’ protests.

It is more than likely that many of those who tore Hrithik Roshan’s posters on the streets went home and listened to Hindi songs over commercial FM radio

or watched a Hindi movie on video (the satellite feed of Hindi movies through cable operators had been yanked by the time they had reached home). ........

The Nepali anti-India sentiment is a deeply ambiguous one, and nowhere is this more true than among the leaders of the Nepali left. After all, they learned their Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, by and large, from Hindi translations of the original German, Russian and Chinese. And I would suppose that comrades Prachanda and Baburam acquire the guns and bullets for their Maoist platoons from the small arms racket in India.

...... the same “anti-Indian” Nepali consumes Indian products profusely, travels in India on pilgrimage or pleasure as if it were his own backyard, and leaders in particular have no compunction in seeking help from the Indian embassy in getting sons and daughters admitted to Indian colleges and universities. This paradox of the Nepali mindset, hating and loving India at the same time ....... The need to portray themselves as opponents of Indian interests in Nepal is paramount for the political survival of small left parties, particularly when they do not hold the deciding balance in government coalitions. Take for example the case of

Bamdev Gautam, present leader of the Communist Party of Nepal-Marxist-Leninist (CPN-ML), members of whose student wing led the riots in Kathmandu, and who upbraided a BBC interviewer on air for daring to enquire if he had proof of Roshan’s reported anti-Nepal statement.

Today, out of power and somewhat remote from it given his separation from the rump CPN-UML, Gautam tries hard to portray himself as anti-Indian. However, he did not have the diligence to vote against the overwhelmingly pro-India Mahakali Treaty signed some years ago. As someone who was himself some time a worker in India, Gautam may have tried to understand the kind of backlash anti-Indianism within Nepal can have vis-à-vis the hundreds of thousands of Nepali labourers in India. But then, personal opportunism and lack of principles and contemplation are the hallmarks of the Nepali politician today. ........ The spatial distribution of the ‘anti-India’ sentiment within Nepal also deserves attention. This xenophobic attitude perhaps exists strongest in the large pahadi (hill) population that migrated to the Nepal Tarai since the eradication of malaria, and which lives in close proximity to the madhesi plains-people and the Indians close by across the border ....... in the wake of the events of late December, it would seem that the hub of

this hateful sentiment is within Kathmandu Valley itself

. ....... The anti-madhesi sensibility of the original inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley was built up over history by rulers with a need to point at an enemy without. This inherited sensibility found occasion to grow in the ‘anti-India’ intellectual discourse of the Nepali left and of the proponents of the Panchayat regime (the nationalist vocabulary of these two strains are almost identical). It is because of this coming together of historical animosity on the one hand with the modern-day dogma of the Panchayat and the left on the other, that

an ‘anti-India’ protest can transform so very easily into an “anti-madhesi” one.

Although no one seems to quite know the dynamics of this slippage, this was how

a protest against Hrithik Roshan quickly snowballed into a targeting of Nepalis of Tarai origin

. ........ While the average Nepali is predisposed to ‘love’ India for the myriad of cultural and social links he has south of the border, his ‘hate’ is, besides the source already mentioned, stoked by the way in which the Indian state and establishment have targeted Nepal for various ills that are mostly India-specific. Take for example, the social currency given to the fiction that the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence is encouraged by the Nepali state itself to do mischief in the neighbouring Indian heartland. Indian media managers and scholars in centres engaged in research of neighbouring countries show a remarkable willingness to accept the position of the Indian state on this matter. No wonder, the point of view of these gatekeepers transfers so easily to the population in general, and the Indian state’s version of “anti-Indianism” in Nepal becomes the public’s belief. ........ For long, Nepalis have told themselves that they are a peaceful people. Orientalist visions of the ever-smiling Nepali contributes to the durability of this self-image. But just as the nationalist psyche can entertain both fascination and revulsion against India, so too can a ‘peaceful’ people reach deep into their dark inner-selves to find violent ways to settle scores. Long before the Maoists began to demonstrate this trait, it had been expressed on the streets of Kathmandu as part of the People’s Movement of 1990. In the immediate aftermath of the democratic restoration, some people who were deemed spies of the old regime were held captive by a “pro-democracy” group. They were killed in public over a period of hours, and their bodies were taken around the city in a macabre celebration of “people power”. Even as this happened, in broad daylight, Kathmandu residents by the thousands chose to watch and not intervene......... If Kathmandu‘s residents were capable of such violence in 1990, we have become even more violent due to the particular history of the intervening decade. Anyone who cared to notice that the rioters in Kathmandu were overwhelmingly young and male .....

High levels of unemployment amongst semi-educated youth, easy circulation of pessimism in college campuses, and the macho ways in which personal and societal problems are solved in the universe of Nepali and Hindi films, have given birth to a highly violent masculine imagination among this segment of the population.

...... The rioters in Kathmandu were living that imagination.

Ghetto violence of the urban underclass in the US is sometimes explained as emanating from “having nothing to lose”. The situation of Nepal’s semi-educated, unemployed young males is not very different, and within Kathmandu there is also added the conspicuous consumption, within close proximity, of the suddenly-rich classes.

The events of late December 2000 prove that Nepalis, too, are also a violent lot, and any further exploration of the Hrithik Riots will have to begin with that acknowledgment.
ISI, not Mumbai mafia, had a role in anit-Hrithik riots in Nepal
When the riots first broke out, there were suggestions that the Dawood Ibrahim gang, which was upset with the superstar for declining to act in a film which it had proposed to produce on a benami basis, had instigated the violence. Many observers here poohpoohed this theory, saying that it grossly exaggerated the clout of the underworld. ...... Nepal, whose contribution to Hindi filmdom's revenue is marginal .... This is not to deny the presence of Mumbai's underworld here.

Kathmandu is an important transit point in the international drug trade. Gangsters who want to go to Pakistan from Mumbai, Delhi and other cities often use the Kathmandu-Karachi corridor. Many Mumbai gangsters are known to have Nepalese passports.

Last year, the underworld provided logistical support to the Pakistani hijackers of an Indian Airlines flight which had taken off from Kathmandu. But to attribute the anti-Hrithik riots to Mumbai's underworld is to overestimate its capacity to create mischief here ....... the anti-Hrithik agitation was converted by vested interests, including Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), into an anti-Indian campaign. Later, the anti-Indian movement was hijacked by the nine-party alliance of Leftists and dissidents within the ruling Nepali Congress (NC) and transformed into a movement against the government of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.

When we received the news in mid-December about a few students protesting against Hrithik in Narayangarh, about 150 km from Kathmandu, we found it to be so silly that we decided to spike it, a journalist of The Kathmandu Post said........ But over a period of two weeks, the controversy was systematically fanned into a violent anti-India campaign

by the ISI and other agencies which have a substantial presence here. Later, the Leftist alliance and dissidents within the NC got into the act. ..... the nine-party alliance, many of whose members have pro-China leanings, are trying to precipitate a crisis .... Last year, Mr Koirala had pulled down the government of K.P Bhattarai on the issue of failing law and order. Now, the dissidents led by former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba are giving the ageing Mr Koirala a taste of his own medicine.
Riots not about Hrithik's alleged slur: Father
"isn't about" the bollywood star at all and "there's more to this than meets the eye," his father, rakesh roshan, said thursday. "nothing can be said about who started all this until we go to the root of the problem. i'm told a journalist in nepal saw tapes of hrithik's films being burnt and that's how the story started. but i don't know anything for sure," rakesh roshan said. "it's very very sad and senseless," he said of the violence in kathmandu that has claimed two lives and injured scores. "if as they say hrithik has said these things in an interview, then please show us the tape. nobody has seen the interview," he said. he said that he had first heard about the kathmandu riots on tuesday when he was about to depart for the temple town of tirupati in andhra pradesh.

"i woke up hrithik and asked him if he had ever said anything about nepal. he denied ever having said anything like that. by the time i reached tirupati there were unbelievable stories of riots and deaths in kathmandu," he said.

"the question - which country and people do you hate the most - (that is alleged to have been put to hrithik which he is said to have answered) is completely insane. who would be stupid enough to ask such a question? so where's the question of hrithik speaking against nepal?" rakesh roshan asked. he thought it might be a good idea to send a delegation from the mumbai film industry to nepal to smooth frayed nerves. "if hrithik had even made a mention of nepal in any of his interviews i'd think there's a basis for these stories. but he hasn't even mentioned nepal anywhere," he said
Anti-India wave sweeps across Nepal
A wave of anti-India sentiment of unprecedented proportions sweeping Nepal reflects pent-up animosity over a perceived Indian "big brother" role in the region, analysts here say ..... A violent unrest, in which at least four people have been killed, has been triggered by hostile statements attributed to popular Indian film actor Hrithik Roshan.......Hrithik, 26, and Star satellite television have both denied the screen star ever said he "hated Nepal and the Nepalese people" in an interview two weeks ago....... But leftist students, ignoring the denials, continued to protest and have called for a ban on the actor's films, threatening to "bury Hrithik alive" if he set foot in Nepal.........The continuing unrest and agitation against India that has gripped Nepal

has terrified Indian residents who have seen their vehicles, shops and businesses destroyed.

........ Previously, when there was tension between Nepal and India, the local population had vented its anger "in a small way, but this time, the Indians and their property have been repeatedly attacked and damaged," an analyst here noted......... Some political observers in Kathmandu see the agitation as

a reflection of pent-up anti-India feeling.

...... "Being a bigger and a powerful nation, India always tried to act as a big brother," political analyst Hari Shrestha said......

"Hrithik's statement was the last straw which triggered the anti-India move,"

Nepali language daily, the City Times Evening said Thursday.......

"India has been blaming Nepal for all the misdeeds that happen over here against it," the daily said, alluding to the hijacking of an Indian Airlines aircraft a year ago

and allegations in New Delhi that Pakistani spies received help in Kathmandu in harming Indian interests. .......The president of the Nepal-Britain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Rajendra Khetan, said:

"The protestors who attacked the properties of Indian businessmen and their firms and shops were not large in number but the riot police did nothing to protect the Indians." The mobs even damaged social service centres which provide medical aid and food to Nepalese and foreigners, including Indians, he said.

...... "There is no logic why such social service centres have to be smashed," Khetan said.....

A leading Nepali businessman of Indian origin Banwari Lal Mittal said: "Indian businessmen's participation in Nepal's economy through trade and industry is very important. "If the Indians living here or those of Indian descent are attacked, it could gravely affect Nepal's economy, apart from weakening Nepal's democracy," he said.

...... The Ruling Nepali Congress party's youth leader, Mathabar Singh, Basnyet said: "Foreign elements are the main force behind the current anti-India movement in Nepal. Whenever we have political agitations here, there is always the influence of foreign elements," he said....... Basnyet was echoing

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's remark to his Indian counterpart Atal Behari Vajpayee Thursday that the unrest was part of a "conspiracy."

...... A communique from the Indian premier's office quoted Koirala as telling Vajpayee: "These incidents appeared to be a part of a conspiracy aimed at harming the traditionally close bonds of friendship between the two neighbours. We have set up a commission to inquire into its origins and find out if it has any external dimensions.".... A Nepal government statement Thursday said: "It doesn't suit the prestige of a country to create social disorder and disturbances over some unproved and repeatedly denied statement made by an individual."
Anti-Hrithik stir in Nepal assumes political undertones
The dissident faction in the ruling Nepali Congress on Thursday evening filed a no-confidence notice with the parliamentary party against Prime Minister G P Koirala. ..... Sherbahadur Deuba, the central figure among anti-Koirala groups in the ruling party, has filed the no-confidence notice, which carries the signature of 56 members of parliament. This figure is one short of the 57 needed for a majority. ..... Deuba has for long been backed by 48 MPs against Koirala, but the present law and order problem has given a boost to his anti-Koirala activities. In the past two days, he managed to garner eight more MPs. .... fall of the Koirala government is a distinct possibility, as Deuba seems close to garnering the requisite numbers (in the party) against the prime minister. "Once that happens, Koirala might split the party and seek the support of the opposition communists to stake claim to form the government," they said. ...... The anti-Hrithik protests, which have rocked the country since December 23, have severe political undertones to it ..... the present anarchy started in Chitwan district and Virratnagar township. ....

The protests were initiated by Parivartan Nepal, an organisation run by Mohan Niraula, a pro-monarchy theatre personality who was arrested by the police on Wednesday.

..... Niraula has in the past made public statements of the like that he is even ready to shoot Koirala to save Nepal. He is an ardent supporter of the royalty. He has been leading the demonstrations against the Bollywood heartthrob in Kathmandu too. .....

The main victim of the unrest has been the rich Marwari community besides others of Indian descent..... Among the worst hit is Gandhian and leading Marwari businessman Sharklal Kedia. Kedia's house has been attacked and his family members are under constant threat

India asks Nepal to protect Indians

''It is a clear case of disinformation spread by vested interests. The events were orchestrated and not spontaneous.''

...... the interview given by the star to former actress and TV presenter Simi Garewal on the STAR Plus channel on December 14 was available on the web sites indiafm.com and hrithikroshan.com/articles/simigare2.htm .... Hrithik in the interview. Hrithik said he loved Nepal and had tremendous respect for its people ....

Hrithik said he was baffled by the whole controversy.

Nepal bans Hrithik films, seeks apology
The Nepal government has asked Bollywood heartthrob Hrithik Roshan to apologise for his reported remarks about Nepal and its citizens...... The Hindu kingdom's demand for a public apology from the actor came a day after the government banned all Hrithik films in Nepal..... Nepal's Information Minister Jay Prakash Gupta told an Indian newspaper on Tuesday that Hrithik should offer a public apology. "We demand an apology from him," he said. ..... The Nepal government has banned his films because "he has hurt the sentiments of the Nepalese people," Gupta said..... Officials at the Nepal embassy in New Delhi, however, said there has been no official communication demanding an apology from the film star.....

Hrithik reportedly told an Indian channel that Nepal and its people are "the place and people" he dislikes the most.

... The superstar Tuesday said that he never made such a remark...... Indian authorities in Delhi and Kathmandu are worried as Indian films and channels are very popular in Nepal, which has a tiny film industry and no satellite channels. .... Indian films are a major hit in the country, while most popular channels in Nepal are all Indian.

Since Tuesday, cable operators have blocked off Indian channels.

..... Incidentally, the anti-India violent protests in Nepal come exactly

a year after a similar sentiment swept across the country in the wake of the Indian authorities accusing a Nepali trader of being a hijacker of IC 814.

Normality returns to riot-torn Kathmandu

The Nepalese Capital was mostly calm today after Left wing students called off a fifth day of protests at an alleged slur by film star Hrithik Roshan out of respect for the King's birthday.

..... the

offices of the Nepal Sadbhavana Party were set on fire

and a few vehicles belonging to Indian businessmen in Kathmandu were damaged this morning ..... Today was a national holiday in the Himalayan kingdom to mark the 56Th birthday of King Birendra. Calm fell for the first time in more than 72 hours .... violence has continued despite the denials .... The Indian Airlines today operated flights in all the three sectors to Nepal, where normality returned after three days of rioting and general strikes..... the Delhi-Kathmandu flight left with 88 passengers and returned with as many as 202 passengers. Similarly, the Calcutta-Kathmandu flight carried 50 passengers and returned with 248 passengers. In the Varanasi-Kathmandu sector, the outbound flight carried 81 passengers. It returned with 134 passengers.
Communist strike paralyses Nepal

The residence of Sushil Koirala, the National Congress general secretary, was damaged by a pipe bomb thrown from a motorcyle. The compound wall was blown down and part of the ground floor destroyed.

.... Mr Koirala said it was an attempt to silence him for "speaking out against Maoists and violence". The Maoists are in their fifth year of an insurrection against the government. The other bombs exploded at the homes of the education minister and the former home minister. .... Last week there were three days of riots in Kathmandu and other cities over remarks allegedly made by the Indian film star Hrithik Roshan. .....

A coalition of nine opposition Communist parties called a general strike for yesterday and today in protest at the riot deaths. It paralysed Kathmandu and other major cities.



Indian Idol, Protests and Nepali Identity in India

Newly crowned Indian Idol Prashant Tamang, 24-year-old Indian police constable of Nepali origin, was warmly welcomed in Kathmandu this afternoon. He is here to take part in two concerts while his hometown Darjeeling (India) is tense and his fans across the region are protesting the demeaning remarks made against him and Nepali Indian community by a Radio Jockey in New Delhi.

..... It was only a few days ago that North East Indian city like Darjeeling and Siliguri (or Silgadhi) were merrily celebrating their beloved boy Prashant Tamang’s mesmerizing victory in the hugely popular and closely contested Indian TV singing talent show Indian Idol. When Prashant, a 24-year-old boy of Nepali origin who is a constable in Kolkata (or Calcutta) Police, was announced the winner, his mother took out a Nepali Dhaka topi (traditional Nepali cap) and proudly put that over her son’s head. The Indian Idol program was phenomenally popular, especially among Nepali communities in India that thousands of people didn’t sleep to push Prashant towards the success by voting in the contest. Why? The answer is very easy. In a big country like India, Nepalis (Gorkhas) aren’t recognized in the way they deserve to be recognized. There is sort of identity crisis and

Nepalis in India are by and large marginalized.

....... it won’t be an exaggeration to say that the winning of Indian Idol by Prashant was in no way less than having a separate statehood for Nepalis in India (or something like that). ..... When a New Delhi FM RJ badly cracked a joke on the same Gorkhali identity it really hurt the Gorkha sentiment. That is why Nepali Indians and other fans of Prashant are furiously protesting those insensitive remarks of the RJ. Whatever the RJ said was not only insensitive but also demeaning to the community. The RJ’s uninformed statement undermined the very glorious identity of the Nepali community in India that was renewed with Prashant’s victory. The RJ Nitin reportedly said:

“Aaaj Prashant Tamang ‘Nepali ladka from Darjeeling’ [Today Prashant Tamang, Nepali boy from Darjeeling] has become Indian Idol [laughs sarcastically] and we have a [cricket] match tonight so we need to guard our house / malls / restaurants by ourselves as there will be no Nepali people to guard these place and whole night we need to say Jagtay Raho [stay awake].” The RJ also added that all the Footpath Momo shops will remain closed as Nepali guy has become Indian Idol.

....... Even in Nepal, the program was so popular that thousands of people from across the country rallied in Prashant’s favor, collected hundreds of thousands of money and sent them to Darjeeling so that more votes to Prashant could be text messaged. Though the Indian Idol program’s slogan was ‘Bharat ka saan’ [pride of India], many Nepalis were thinking that Prashant was actually ‘Nepal ko saan’ [pride of Nepal.] Many groups of Nepalis even went to Darjeeling waving the glorious Chandra Surya: Nepali national flag. Actually there are many talented singers in Nepal who hail from that Darjeeling and surrounding area of India and are living in Nepal for decades.

Amber Gurung, who composed the tune of the new Nepali national anthem, hails from the same area. Though I haven’t been to Darjeeling, I have heard from many of my colleagues that the love towards Nepali language and culture is more visible and intense in Darjeeling than in Nepal itself

.......... Within days, almost all papers in Kathmandu and in eastern Nepal were publishing every detail that they could gather about Prashant. Meanwhile, Kantipur also kept the coverage and that created huge interest among Nepali viewers because the TV channel that airs the Indian Idol program is available in almost all cable channels in Nepal. ...... As the voting was progressing towards the final day, a group of young boys in Kathmandu came to me saying they had made ‘Vote Prashant Tamang’ t-shirts and they wanted their effort to be covered in Kantipur so that they could sell the clothes and send the money to Darjeeling. This case really makes me think that media is indeed powerful...... The Indian actor denied having made any such statements within days but by then we had already seen some of

the worst riots in Kathmandu

and other parts of Nepal in which an innocent 9-year-old girl lost her life and properties worth millions was destroyed.

We are rumor prone and yes we are also very much sensitive about our dignity

.......... This time, when I heard yesterday in our newsroom that Nepalis in Darjeeling were calling for a Darjeeling banda (general strike), I instantly decided not to publish that news in Kantipur. Why? Because I know the fire will almost instantly come in Nepal. The same people who went to Darjeeling waiving the glorious Moon and Sun will start rioting to protest the silly remarks of the New Delhi based RED FM RJ. I prey that the protests in Darjeeling and surrounding areas don’t come to Nepal..... In the CNN IBN program this evening,

Javed Akther made a valid point that such insensitive and foolish remarks should be ignored

. That’s right, I also think so, but when the issue reached to the crowd it’s very hard to control the anger. I really do wish people of Darjeeling and surrounding areas didn’t hurt themselves by organizing violent bandas and vandalizing their own properties to teach a simpleton RJ about their glorious and world famous identity. Instead, they should pressurize the Indian government to reform the education system that properly provides knowledge to students about Nepali community in India.

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