Caught in the conflict in the Terai are the Pahadis, or the hill people of Nepal, and Madhesis, or those who speak Hindi or its various dialects and who're often described as people of Indian origin. The Madhesis, who are settled in Terai's 20 districts that hug the 1,800-km border with India, have been clamouring for adequate political representation and recognition of their rights in the country's future system of governance. These include fresh delimitation of constituencies, representation in Parliament in proportion to population, and a federal structure of governance in which the Terai is recognised as a state. The Madhesis have been discriminated against for long, claim their leaders: they hold only 10 per cent of civil administration posts.
Days before the interim constitution was to be promulgated on January 15, the Madhesis launched their movement under an umbrella group, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF). With the interim constitution not echoing their demands, and the Maoists pressuring the G.P. Koirala government to ignore the MJF, the movement gathered fresh momentum. Nine people were killed as the police opened fire in several places. The reverberation from the Terai was felt in Kathmandu when minister Hridayesh Tripathi, belonging to a Terai-based party, resigned from the Koirala government. "I am resigning...as the government has hardly displayed any seriousness when the Terai erupted in flames," he said.