A prominent secessionist leader from Nepal earlier this month agreed to give up his demands for an independent Madhes state, averting the chances of conflict in the country’s south.
Chandra Kant Raut signed an 11-point agreement with the government led by the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), pledging to honour the “sovereignty” and “territorial integrity” of the country.
Raut-led Alliance for Independent Madhes has been running a campaign for an independent state for the historically marginalised people from the southern region, also known as Terai, bordering India.
In return, the government headed by Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli has committed to dropping all charges against Raut, who was released from jail a day before the signing of the deal, whose details have not been made public.
Raut, who has been in and out of jail a dozen times on charge of anti-state activities, denounced violence and agreed to join mainstream politics in a major boost to the Oli government that has faced people’s discontent from the southern region.
The Madhesi people, who have been underrepresented in Nepali state structures, have accused the northern hilly people of discrimination.
‘No ground for separatist movement’
Part of the southern region was given to Nepal by the British colonial rulers in the 19th century.
“There is no ground for separatist movement in Nepal. The government offered him to surrender at once, he needs to support the sovereignty and integrity of the country,” Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Upendra Yadav told Al Jazeera.
“We are watching carefully to note whether or not he will follow the agreement.”
Raut had campaigned against the state, accusing it of racial discrimination against Madhesi people. With a deep attachment to Madhesi issues, he returned to Nepal in 2011 from the United States where he worked as a scientist.
Analysts say the agreement might help Raut to…