Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Departure of Rural Folks

  -Yam Bahadur Dura                                                                                                                             

Gayo maya lahure huna lai

rel ko jhyal ma basera runa lai

[My beloved went Lahur to join  Gorkha Army. He left me alone. He also might have felt alone. For this reason,  he might have wept much by sitting near the window of the train while traveling to Lahur]

This is the summary of this popular Nepali folk song, which is being largely sung by rural people. This song tells the sad story of rural broken-hearts.  Each of visit to Rupaidiha, the marketplace of India, near Nepalgunj – one of frontier cities of Nepal reminds me of this song.

My journey to Rupaidiha witnesses flocks of rural folks entering into India leaving their beloved ones and families alone. Tanga, a-horse-driven biological carriage (cart), assists them to reach Rupaidiha from Nepalgunj.

On December 26, 2004, Naya Samrachana, a local daily of Nepalgunj, had reported about the mass departure of rural folks quoting security sources that 1500 to 2000 rural folks are entering into India via Rupaidiha every day.

I sometimes use tanga to get to Rupaidiha. At the times of my short journey from Nepalgunj to Rupaidiha, I usually meet some innocent people who are on the way to India. I try to read faces of innocent people sitting next to me. They are from far-flung villages of mid-western and far-western development regions of Nepal, and heading towards uncertain destination holding an uncertain future.

I have made short conversation with them in my journeys. One of the youths from Rolpa in his 20s told me, ''I am going to Himanchal Pradesh (India) to feel secured form volatile situation of my village and make some earnings. But I don't know where my actual destination is. I have left my sick parents alone."  His pale and sad face made me unhappy and reminded me of aforesaid tragic folk song again.

This song reflects its own (background) history that it was born after the East India Company (the British Empire) established Gurkha Recruit Center (Gorkha Bharti Kendra) with the purpose recruiting Nepali youths in their forces. Historical document says it was established in India after 'Sugauli Treaty' took place in 1816. Almost 188 years passed since then. Nepal has been witnessing many more social and political upheavals over the century-long period. Scene is changed there. Characters are changed. Their roles and mentalities are also changed. Everything is changed. But one the thing remained same that Nepalis have leaving their country for many reasons.

That is a huge flock of Nepali youths are still entering into foreign countries as our grand fathers did some 188 years ago. They are leaving their homes for their livelihoods. They have compulsions to make their survival by selling their labors in alien places. Lahure (army), gatekeeper, labor or miner, whatever be the form of job, they are continuing the century-old tradition.  Our socioeconomic scenario viz. widespread poverty, social injustices are heavily nurturing this tradition.

We all are much more familiar with the pathetic situation of poor rural masses. Actually, they are deprived of very basic needs viz. foods, clothes and shelters. As a result of that, rural youths are forced to leave the country and their beloved ones as well.

On the other hand, present conflict situation is adding new dimension in it. That is, rural folks are entering into our neighboring country India to save their lives rather than to make earnings.

The nine-year-old armed conflict has heavily forcing rural youths to flee their birthplace or country. More than 70 percent of economically active populations in the mountain regions of Nepal have either migrated or have been displaced due to conflict (The Kathmandu Post, December 12, 2004).

Increasing conflicts in the mountain areas in recent years are threatening survival of innocent rural masses. Rural folks are much more familiar with abduction, illegal detention, killing and other gruesome activities of warring factions. This has created fears and terrors among innocent rural masses and they are feeling insecure day by day. Exodus of rural folk is the result of current conflict situation.

[Courtesy:  The Voice, a Nepalgunj based weekly English vernacular. This article was written in 2004 which was the the height of Maoist Armed Conflict .]

[Updated : Sept. 22, 2011; Nov 21, 2012; January 3, 2013]

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