KAMAL RAJ SIGDEL, FEB, 18, Holari, Rolpa:
Welcome to Magarat Autonomous Region! A hording board erected besides a serpentine dirt road near Holeri hill greets the travellers. Leaving behind a cloud of dust, the white UN prado leads us to the hill’s peak, probably the highest in the area.
As we stop by the peak to take a few shots from the highest vantage point, the highlanders gaze us with certain level of scepticism. The distancing gaze is obvious -- given the deceptions they have faced so far and the broken dreams.
One of us asks an old woman, who is from the local Magar community, whether she has noticed a board that declares the areas an autonomous state.
She nodes as she looks at us with several curiosities.
“K garna aaunuva, babuharu?” (Why have you come here, my sons?) she cannot help questioning.
As we thought -- with certain snobbishness -- it was not necessary to explain her that we were on our way to Sworgadwari to see the final demolition of landmines by Nepal Army team, we engaged her more in answering us than letting her question us.
“Budi ammai, where is your home? Who else is in your family?” we asked.
“Ko huni babu, only my buda and me” she replied.
“Where are your sons?” (we though asking whereabouts of her daughters was irrelevant)
Do you think, things will be better now after this area is declared ‘
“I am told that it will be good for us.”
We walked into the yard of her house. What was inscribed over the front wall of her house was quite surprising.
Sanghiyata chhaidaina, des tukrauna paidaina. (“We don’t want federalism, no do we want to split the nation.”)
The area was later found to have been one of the pocket areas of the Rastriya Janamorcha led by Chitra Bahadur K.C., who has been leading an anti-federalism movement. The Maoists, however, had swamp all the seats of the district during the 2008 Constituent Assembly elections.
“What does this mean?” I asked the old woman.
“Khoi babu, some of the local youth came last day and said the leaders have been plotting in
The woman, who still vividly remembers how the then Maoist rebels demolished the local police post at Holeri, fears that the history could repeat.
“When the local youth come to paint my wall, I asked them not to repeat the past. I am too old to see the violence now.”
“Whom do you believe then: the youth who painted your wall the other day or the ones who erected the board about autonomous state down there?
“Khoi babu, k ho, k ho … ma ta jandina. Everyone seems to be saying something good. I don’t know which is good for me and the nation.”