In The News (53)

Niranjan Koirala
By the time I was growing up in Biratnagar in the early 50's, the tharus had lost much of their influence and land in that area to the migrants from the hills and many Marwari families that came from Rajasthan at the call of earlier Rana Primeminister whose dream was to make Biratnagar an industrial town and a trading centre. My grandfather, Krishna Prasad Koirala was one of the early pahadi settlers there. He might have been one of the people who gave the place its current name. Before that the place was called Gograha. Gograha was dominated by the tharus, who had been the original settlers and who had acquired immunity against the dangerous malarial mosquito bites. When my grandmother, Dibya came to Biratnagar as a young bride, she tied a rakhi on a tharu zamindar from Raghunathpur, a few miles east of today's Biratnagar. The tharu zamindar, Teju Lal Chaudhury, gifted my grandmother 25 bighas of land in Raghunathpur that she very proudly called her 'peva'. She used to tell us proudly that her 'brother' had given her that land and it had nothing to do with the Koirala family. Before she died. she gifted most of that to her sister. My father and all his brothers including BP used to address him as Mama. 'Mama' came to Biratnagar very rarely. But when he came, he stayed in our home, Koirala Nivas. He was an extremely dignified man and he usually came with three or four of his retainers who looked after his comforts. My grandmother accorded great respect and because of that we used to be in awe of him. I remember going and spending a couple of nights in his home in Raghunathpur. The main house was built of wood with a tin roof and there were many neat huts around it. There was no halla-gulla in the premise. The serenity of the environment made us impose self-discipline....The Tharus that I knew growing up were the most peace loving people. In fact, much later, I was quite surprised when I was told that a junior party colleague who was quite aggressive and a boisterous youth leader- Bijaya Gacchadar- was a tharu! I had always believed and believe now that Tharus can never be aggressive till they are pushed to the wall. I believe somethlng like that happened in Nepal today that has provoked the tharus to be so aggressive. Sitting in Delhi I am not the right person to comment politically, but as someone who had had many tharu friends and grew up amongst them, I can say with certainty that whatever has gone wrong is not because of them. And if things get out of hand, it will not be because of them. My uncle Sushil who is the current PM of the country knows this. I hope he is taking appropriate steps to contain this anger of the tharus before it spirals out of control.


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