The issue of Khas ethnicity has again been on the spotlight after a lawyer published a small pocket size book on the theme recently.
Written by one of the leading constitutional experts of Nepal, Dr Bipin Adhikari, the book "Nepalka Khas Jati" (The Khas People of Nepal) (Kathmandu: Nepal Consulting Lawyers, Inc, 2068 BS) presents the historicity of Khas people, their roots, language, religion and culture, and their abodes in the Himvatkhanda including Nepal since pre-Vedic (Iron Age) times in a very concise manner.
The booklet of 105 pages, which is priced at Rs 50, brings forward many ancient references about Khas people from Vedas and Mahabharata, Hindu scriptures and treatises, the ancient written history of the Himvatkhanda, and pulls together the facts as to their movement towards the Himalayas and beyond.
Referring to the historical sources, the book shows that the Khas people are not only the first settlers of Nepal, but also exist in the mountains on the southern slopes of the Himalayas from the time immemorial. They exist everywhere from Kashmir to Bhutan, but their ethnic identity is much established in Nepal than in the adjoining territories.
Although a small booklet, it has tried to explain the common folk about Khas ethnicity as an aspect of this community's self-recognition as well as an aspect of its recognition in the eyes of outsiders. Attempts have been made in the booklet to explain Khas ethnicity in terms of standards of behavior, social ties, common origins, memories of a shared historical past, shared cultural heritage, religious affiliation, language and tribal affiliation, etc.
Although the purpose of the book is only to share the perspective of the author on Khas ethnicity, it will have enormous impact on the common people and activists alike. It makes easy to every member of Khas (i.e.Chhetri, Bahun, Kami, Thakuri, Sarki, Sannyasi, Badi, Damai and Gaine) community to know how indigenous they are to this land. Additionally, the booklet poses intellectual challenge to those who consider the Khas people less indigenous to Nepal than the Janajatis who have been asking for provinces in federal Nepal based on their claims of indigenousness. The book is expected to spark debate on Khas ethnicity more than ever.