Prosperity in Jitpur Simara, not discrimination

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'A boy from our own Madhesi community broke an umbrella of a girl of hill origin in this market. We snatched the key of that boy's motorcycle and made him apologize. One shouldn't humiliate others," Manoj Prasad Sah of Jitpur Simara Sub Metropolitan City of Bara recalled an incident that happened in front of his shop.

 Madhesi community dominate Jitpur and people of hill origin Simara, but there is cordial relationship between the two communities, according to Sah. "We don't look at the ethnicity of candidate. We look at the qualities," he answered when asked if votes are given along the ethnic lines.

Jitpur Simara sub-metropolis is 20 kilometers away from Birgunj. But Simara remained untouched by the influence of Birgunj that was at the center of Madhes Movement for over six months even as Jitpur saw sporadic impact.

Rajaiya road, that was used by kings of the Hajmuniya Palace of Rautahat in the past, is being converted into Postal Highway and people are settling on either side of the road. There is a dense settlement of people of hill origin near the highway and the northern side of the under-construction Postal Highway. There is Tharu settlement to the south of the Postal Highway and Madhesi settlement further south.

There is a triangular competition between Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) in Jitpur Simara. UML had won the constituencies where the su-bmetropolis lies in the second Constituent Assembly election in 2013.

UML has fielded Krishna Prasad Paudel for the post of mayor, NC Krishna Wart Singh and Maoist Center Rajan Paudel. Similarly, Rastriya Janata Party has fielded Akhil Kumar Singh and Forum Democratic Raj Kumar Chaudhary but the Madhes-based parties do not have much influence here.

The Madhesi people from here did not participate much in the latest Madhes Movement. Prahlad Gupta of Jitpur stated that the Madhesis have not experienced much discrimination here. "Jitpur has been a commercial center right from the beginning. Nobody can bully a person if the person is financially prosperous. This ensures there is no scope for discrimination," Gupta, who has a hardware store, reasoned. "The traders have been NC supporters. Some are even with UML now," he added.

Suraj Mansoor has a slipper store in Jitpur. He also believes that there is communal harmony in Jitpur Simara where the majority of people are traders or intellectuals.

Shyam Adhikari from Simara also does not see much animus between the Madhesis and people of hill origin. He added that many people of hill origin from Birgunj wary after the Madhes Movement have bought land and house in Simara. "An advocate with Kafle surname and a teacher with Koirala surname have migrated here from Birgunj. People of hill origin feel safe to stay here," he revealed.

Bidur Khadka, who is doing journalism based in Bara, says there are almost 10,000 people of hill origin in Jitpur Bara. There is cordial relationship among the communities with people of hill origin, Thaurs and Madhesis gradually mingling with each other.  

"Madhesi girls used to run away on seeing us when we migrated to Simara. They would drop the bucket, they carried to fetch water from well, and run away. Now they debate with us," he added.

The sub-metropolis was in Bara 3 and 4 in the last CA election, and Purushottam Paudel and Najma Khautn of UML had won in the respective constituencies. UML seems to be strong even in the local election. But UML's Paudel is facing a strong challenge after NC fielded Singh who has created an image of integrity. Maoist Center candidate is also attracting Tharu voters.  

Dumarwana, that has also been included in the sub-metropolis, is a UML stronghold. Muhammad Shahid Khan of Dumarwana says he has embraced the principles of UML and cannot leave the party now.

A whole Tharu settlement of Dumarwana has recently joined Maoist Center. "We have built this chautara (resting place) by collecting money, and also built the building for our club ourselves. UML did not do anything," Paltan Chaudhary, who sat at the chautara along with fellow villagers, stated.

Supporters of Madhes-based parties RJP and Forum Democratic were not found in the main market of Jitpur and Simara even though some from Parsa and Kalaiya districts doing business here said they support the two parties.

Jitpur Simara is one of the three sub metropolitan cities in Province 2 where the third phase of local polls will be held on September 18, and the city has been hit by election fever.

Ranju Darshana of Bibeksheel Sajha Party has arrived to campaign for the party's candidate for ward chairman. Shanta Chaudhary of Dang is also visiting the Tharu settlements to campaign for UML. NC leaders Ram Sharan Mahat and Ram Hari Khatiwada also addressed a small gathering here.


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