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NEPAL: Update no. 6: Koirala’s visit ends up as an "agenda free trip":

 

Note No. 112                                 

by  S.Chandrasekharan    

Koirala’s week long visit to India: It is said that Public memory is short. But the institutional memory of the Indian government cannot be short.

How many of us can recall that but for the cooperation of Girija Prasad Koirala in the nineties, the Punjab problem could never have been solved? His personal interest in keeping tag of the terrorists using the "Nepal Route" and regular intelligence sharing of movement of terrorists led to the arrest of many of the dreaded terrorists.

How many of us know that Girija Prasad Koirala as the first Prime minister elected in 1990 under multiparty system was treated shabbily during his first visit to China because he was considered to be too friendly to India?

Before coming to India Girija despite opposition from almost all other political parties had for the first time introduced a citizenship bill that would once and for all solve the vexatious problem of citizenship of people of Indian origin in Terai.

Yet Girija prasad Koirala for all the hype created in Nepal, returned almost empty handed. Protocol wise there could be no complaint. Koirala had delegation level talks with Prime minister Vajpayee and met three former Prime ministers, the leader of opposition, five Union ministers and the deputy Chairman of the Planning commission.

On his return, Koirala said that he discussed all his problems frankly, that his visit strengthened bilateral relations and that existing obstacles were removed. That was a polite way of saying that he got nothing.

Issues Nepal wanted to discuss; Prior to the visit, Nepal had done its home work and identified issues to be discussed with the Indian counter parts. On July 24 the Foreign minister of Nepal exchanged views with various political parties on matters to be raised during PM’s visit. Prime minister Koirala met the UML General Secretary, President of NDP and CPN ( ML)President and exchanged views.

The issues he proposed to raise were

Kalapani border issue:

A technical committee was formed in 1982 to delineate the border and it should not have taken more than two years for completion of the exercise. Yet there has been no movement. India claims that Kalapani area is well within the Indian territory and has not moved its ITBP’s post from the disputed area. Delineation should have been expedited and the irritant .removed. Yet no action was taken.

Laxmanpur barrage on the Rapti:

An embankment was built by India on the Rapti at Laxmanpur some 8 Km from the border. Construction of embankment and guide bunds is said to have resulted in inundation of a large tract of Nepali territory. This problem is not unique to Rapti river. There have been constructions on both sides of the border without mutual consultations resulting in hardship to people on both sides. This has to be settled in an overall context of management of all the rivers flowing from Nepal to India and the riparian interests of both countries taken into account. India’s decision to construct the barrage unilaterally in Indian territory was a result of the bad experience it had in the construction of Kosi Barrage in Nepalese territory a few kilometres from the Indian border earlier.

* The problem of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal:

It is Nepal’s view that the problem is not a bilateral one between Nepal and Bhutan but a trilateral one and that it can be solved only if India takes an interest. (See our updates on Bhutan). It is our view that India will necessarily have to take the initiative to solve this human problem and not leave it to outside agencies like UNHCR to intervene.

* Review of India-Nepal Treaty of 1950:

Perhaps the most contentious and embarrassing issue is the review of the 1950 treaty. Koirala is under intense pressure from his colleagues and other parties to review the treaty. The treaty has many aspects of which the security related ones are part of a package of other facilities which Nepal enjoys like free movement across the border, employment opportunities for Nepalese in India, free flow of primary goods, free conversion of currency etc. If the treaty is to be reviewed Nepal must make an in-depth study as to how it would affect Nepal when the treaty is abrogated. It is not clear what Nepal really wants- revision/deletion of only some of the clauses or a total revision or deletion of the security provisions which give the impression of a master-client relationship? Nepal must make up its mind. India on its part should have an open mind to revise the provisions if need be as no country however small it may be would like to have an abridged sovereignty.

In the days when each country gives a portion of its sovereignty for its greater good, any revision which would result in closure of the open border between India and Nepal will be a retrogressive step. On the eve of Koirala’s visit India today released a 78 page document relating to the ISI activities in Nepal ( "The Nepal Game plan" in the web site India-today.com). This report though denied to be official has details which could not have been obtained by India Today without assistance from the Indian intelligence agencies and worse still, the Government of India has not pulled up agencies responsible for the leak. The problem of ISI activity and collusion of Nepalese officials at the highest levels is no doubt serious but given the extensive cooperative relationship between the two countries, it could be solved.

In Koirala India has the friendliest Prime minister of Nepal and it is for India to support him in his endeavours to bring about stability in Nepal. After the hijacking incident Nepal has introduced many measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents and it is believed that cooperation on security is being revived at an institutional level.

Feud between Bhattarai and Koirala continues: K.P.Bhattarai the former Prime minister has not forgiven Koirala for forcing him to resign. He has been very active in having informal meetings party wise and region wise in the name of "saving democracy." Major meetings held by him include

* On May 20, he held an all party meeting at his residence to discuss the main problems facing Nepal which included the Maoist problem, 1950 Treaty, Kalapani issue, water resources and that of the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal. Bhattarai insisted that his aim was to have a consensus on the problems faced by the country.

* On June 13, he arranged a get together programme with leaders of the nine leftist parties to discuss the Maoist problem. He wanted all political parties to be seriously involved.

* On June 21, he met some of the MPs of Nepali Congress of all the five development regions to discuss the deteriorating law and order situation and renew people’s faith in the multi party system.

* On June 26, he held consultations with NC MPs of Mid Western Region to discuss the serious law and order situation in that region. He took a swipe at Koirala and said "If G.P.Koirala fails to work properly, other good leaders within the Nepali Congress should be given an opportunity."

* On July 3, he met the NC MPs from the western Development Region and stressed the need for the government "to come up with a well - defined strategy before sitting for talks with the Maoists."

* On July 20, he organised a discussion programme with Ex NC MPs and stressed the need for full unity in the party and the government to "reverse the deteriorating law and order situation in the country."

The real grievance of Bhattarai appears to be, that having been removed from the post of the Prime minister, the post of Party Presidentship should come to him. Since Bhattarai by virtue of being the senior most member of the party has been having informal meetings to the embarrassment of Koirala, the latter decided to have a personal meeting on 29 July to discuss on the coming national convention of the party and the situation prevailing in the country. The meeting only worsened the relationship between the two.

The feud between the two came into the open on 7th when Bhattarai instigated the minister for water resources Khum Bahadur Khadka to go for a signature campaign and collected signatures of 60MPs demanding that Koirala should give up one of the two posts - the presidentship or the prime ministership. Bhattarai also made a call for sticking to "one man-one party" rule. Koirala promptly sacked Khum Bahadur Khadka from the post of the minister.

Now the battle lines are drawn between Koirala and Bhattarai. In the ensuing clash of egos between the two individuals it is Nepal’s stability that is at stake.

Maoist menace continues:

The Minister for Home, Govinda Raj Joshi made an official statement in the House that till June 20, 2000, a total of 1366 persons, including 223 innocent civilians, 194 Police personnel and 946 Maoists have been killed so far. Property worth over Rs. 18 million had been looted. 217 persons have been abducted by the terrorists of whom 113 were rescued, 21 killed and another 63 are still in their custody.

The Deuba committee continues to function and the latest position is that Deuba has received a fresh communication in mid June their readiness for talks. G.P.Koirala has indicated that Deuba has full powers to negotiate with the Maoists. Deuba in meeting on June 18 by the Citizens Concern declared that he will go ahead with the dialogue woth the Maoists on any conditions other than removing the King and multi party democracy.

The European Union has welcomed the mandate given to Deuba and maintained that " a negotiating process offers the best chance of resolving Nepal’s problems for the longer term."( June 3, 2000). The Danish Ambassador to Nepal opined on June 2nd that the Maoist insurgency has been disrupting development projects in 13 VDCs. He added that the root cause of the problem is in the social situation and deprivation.

In the budget for next year the government has allotted separate funds for the Maoist infected areas and will be administered separately under a single basket funding system.

A list of incidents involving Maoists since May 2000 is given as an Appendix. The incidents if any have only increased and the most gruesome one was the cuttingof hands of Kharibot VDC Secretary, Netra Prasad Adhikari on 28th of July 2000.

An internal assessment of the Police on the Maoist affected area has three categories -most affected, affected and ordinarily affected.The districts which come under the three categories are

A. Most Affected: Jajarkot, Rolpa, Rukum and Salyan.

B. Affected: Dolkha, Gorkha, Jumla, Kavre, Khotang, Pyuthan, Ramechap, Sindhuli and Sindhu Phulchowk.

C. Ordinarily affected: Argakhanchi, Bardiya, Bhojpur, Dailekh, Dang, Dhading, Dolpa, Gulmi, Lalitpur, Lamjung, Makwanpur, Nuwakot, Okhaldhunga, Surkhet, Syangja, Tanahu and Udaypur

A map of Nepal showing these three categories is published herewith.

mapnepal300r3.jpg (61686 bytes)

A study of the map shows the following.:

* The most affected area is contiguous and concentrated in the mid western region. This is one of the most backward and least accessible portion of Nepal.

* The affected areas are all too close to Kathmandu for comfort. Immediate steps need to be taken to clear Kathmandu and its surroundings. Otherwise the government will soon be faced with urban warfare right in the heart of the capital.

* Many of the affected regions are spread out along the Siwalik hills and not far from India. There are complaints already that the Maoists are seeking shelter in India.

* Significantly, some of the Maoist affected areas are those where a large number of retired Indian Army Gurkha soldiers have settled down. These include Lamjung, Tanahu, Syangja, Gulmi, Surkhet and Dailekh. These Gurkha pensioners are good citizens and could be made use of in countering Maoist insurgency in these areas.

 

10.8.2000

 

Appendix:

MAY

Date : Incidents

20:   Seven policemen were wounded in a crossfire that took place after policemen were trapped in a mine of explosives laid by the Maoist insurgents in the Fulkot VDC of Kalikot.

25:   One policeman was killed and three others sustained injuries in an ambush laid by the Maoist insurgents in Bandipur VDC of Tanahu.

26: Six Maoist insurgents, including a woman, were killed in an encounter with the police at the Urma VDC in Kailali.
60 Maoist insurgents raided, the office of a survey team at the Madhuban Mathaul VDC in Parsa, looted cash and goods worth about Rs.100,000 and destroyed several documents.

JUNE

Date: Incidents

1:   A group of about 30 Maoist at Chapakot in Syangja looted about 1500 kgs of corn from the residence of distributed the same to the poor.
A Maoist insurgent was killed in a Police-Maoist crossfire at the Chandisthan VDC in Lamjung. 

7:    More than 1000 Maoists attacked the special Police Striking force unit based in the Panchkatiya Police Station in the Dhime VDC of Lamjung. In the clash that followed,12 Policemen, six Maoist and seven villagers including seven children, living in a house located nearby, died. Thirty six policemen managed to escape.

10:    Maoist insurgents kidnapped Rajendra Prasad Yadav DEO of Rolpa on his way to Dhanagadhi.

12:   A policeman suffered injuries when a bomb attached to a banner went off at Khadichaur Bazaar in Mankha VDC Sindhupalchok.
The Maoist insurgents also exploded a bomb which destroyed a police post in the Thangpal VDC of the district.
Maoist insurgents killed two and injured eight in separate incidents in Kalikot.

14:    A group of Maoist insurgents hurled a bomb at a police patrol in the Dharmawarti village in Pyuthan. No casualty was reported.

15:    In Pipra Simra of Bara district, some unknown persons shouting Maoist slogan set fire to two tobacco warehouses of the Surya Tobacco company causing a loss of Rs 10 million.
Three policeman were killed and three others sustained injuries in the course of an attack by the Maoist insurgents in Solukhumbu.
According to MP Ratna Prasad Neupane, the Maoist insurgents had abducted four students from Janapriya High School in Jajarkot within a week.

17:   In Pokhara, the Maoist insurgents exploded a bomb at the Naya Sadak branch of the Agricultural Development Bank. Only minor damages were reported.
Two policemen were killed and five others sustained injuries when the Maoist insurgents attacked a police patrol van in Gorkha.
In Hetuada, the insurgents destroyed equipment worth Rs.80 million at the factory of the Colgate Palmolive.
In Myagdi, two policemen were injured when the insurgents attacked a police post. 
A policeman and one civilian were injured when they stepped on a land mine in Tanahu.
In Biratnagar, the Maoist insurgents were suspected to have attacked the house of Kalyan Kumar Timilsina, Superintendent of Police, and the building the Biratnagar Jute Mills. 
Similar report of bombs exploded by the Maoist insurgents were received from otherparts of Nepal in Pokhara and Lamjung.
In Kaski, Gulmi and Jhapa, the Maoist insurgents attacked the local offices of the Small Farmers Development Project.
In Kalikot , two Maoist insurgents were killed in separate encounters with the police.
In Rautahat, Police found large quantities of arms and ammunition hidden by the Maoist insurgents in Santipur VDC.

19:   Chandra Narayan Yadav, ex-Chairman of the Siraha District Development Committee and member of the Siraha district unit of the NC, was shot dead by two persons who were believed to be Maoists. The assailants were arrested with the joint efforts of the police and the local people.
One Maoist insurgent was killed the Bhur VDC in Jajarkot when a bomb carried by him exploded.

20:   In Jajarkot, Govinda Raj Giri, a NC worker who had been abducted by the Maoists on June 14 was hacked to death.

22:   100 Maoist insurgents attacked the Tatopani Customs Office at the Mangkha VDC in Sindhupalchok and looted four rifles and 90 rounds of the bullets. The Maoists also destroyed documents of the Small Farmers Development Project Office there.

25:   Police confiscated a large numbers weapons and documents from a Maoist shelter at Bhalayakharka VDC in Lamjung.

26:   A Maoist insurgent was killed in a Police Maoist exchange of fire at the Chandistan VDC in Lamjung.

28:   Ex-minister of State Reg Bahadur Subedi who had been abducted by the Maoists along with his son about 74 days before was dropped at at his house in Rolpa.

29:   A Maoist insurgent was killed in an encounter with the police at the Valyakharka VDC in Lamjung.

July

Date: Incident

1:   Maoist insurgents bombed and destroyed a police post at the Bhimeshwor Municipality of Dolakha. No one was injured.

5:   No casualty was reported in a two hour exchange of fire between the police and the Maoists that followed an attack by the latter on a police post at the Harnamadi VDC in Makwanpur.

6:  In Dailekh, a group of Maoist insurgents killed an NC leader, Danda Prasad Timilsina, at the Daillekh Belatar VDC.

7:   The police in the Singha VDC of Myagdi fired upon a group of people returning home after attending a funeral procession suspecting them to be Maoists. One 19 year Youth died on the spot.
A group of Maoist insurgents looted four guns from four different houses in the Mahabhara VDC of Jhapa.

8:   In the Kakari VDC of Bara, three Maoists were killed and some others sustained injuries in an encounter with the police.

9:   A group of Maoists looted two guns with eight rounds of bullet and an air-gun from tow residents of the Ketauna VDC of Morang.

13:   Police rescued three persons from the Maoist detention of two VDCs of Kalikot.

14:    In Sindhupalchok, four policemen were killed and seven others sustained injuries in a Maoist attack on a police post at Thokapara VDC .

16:   The Maoist insurgents looted a gun from a house in Haldibari VDC in Jhapa.

19:    Assistant Police Inspector Dil Bahadur G.C. was killed in an encounter with the Maoists in the Chakratirtha VDC of Lamjung incident.

20:    A group of Maoist insurgents kidnapped Nar Bahadur Budha, Headmaster of the Rara Primary School in the Sarmi VDC of Dolpa.

22:    A Maoist insurgent was killed in an encounter with the police near the chepe bridge linking Gorkha and Lamjung districts.
The dead body of ex-Sub-Inspector Khadga Bahadur Khadka, who had been kidnapped by the Maoists on July 15, was found buried at the Mauahavi VDC in Bara.

23:   Maoist insurgents attacked a police patrol team at the Fulchingkot VDC in Sindhupalchok by laying an ambush and detonating a home-made bomb. Nobody was injured.

24:    Maoist commander of the Gandaki Zone, Mohan Hari Poudyal was arrested by a police patrol team in Lamjung.

26:   A group of Maoist insurgents set fire to about 24 sheds and houses of ordinary people in the Harjad VDC of Rolpa.

28:    In the Kharibot VDC of Gorkha, the Maoist insurgents cut the left and the right hands of of the VDC Secretary, Netra Prasad Adhikari.
Shankar Katuwal, a local Maoist activist surrendered before the Chief District Officer pledging a peaceful life.

29:   In Siraha, two Maoists, including Dev Narayan Yadav, Commander of Siraha, Saptari and Dhanusha districts were arrested

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