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NEPAL:update No.7- The Maoists make a devastating attack at Dolpa:


Note no. 116

by  S.Chandrasekharan

Maoists strike with a vengeance:

In what could be termed as the worst ever attack, the Maoists insurgents numbering over a thousand, attacked the CDO office, the Police Headquarters, several government-owned offices at Dunai, the Headquarters of Dolpa district, simultaneously in the early hours of 25th September. Twelve policemen died and another 40 were injured. The insurgents attacked the District jail and released the prisoners after kidnapping eleven policemen guarding the jail. They also looted about 60 million rupees from the branch office of the Nepal Bank Ltd.

Within two days, the Maoists struck again on 27th September the Bhorletar Police post in Lamjung and killed 8 policemen and injuring another 3.

A list of incidents given in the Appendix for the months of August and September indicates qualitative and quantitative escalation of incidents and the growing capability of the Maoists. It is normal, that soon after the recession of the monsoon the insurgents step up their activities, but this time the savagery and ruthlessness shown by them were unprecedented. The incident at Dunai reveals certain distressing features which need to be addressed. These were

* The army camp was situated just two kms away across the Bheri river. They did not come to the rescue of the hapless policemen as the bridge on the river had been destroyed and the only boat with a tow had also been destroyed. Even in normal circumstances the army should have protected these.

* Sensing an attack, the CDO ( Chief District Officer) requested for reinforcements and a small detachment of 48-member riot Police sent in response from Nepalgunj could not reach Dunai in time.

* The insurgents held the town for the whole day on the 25th.

* The Deputy Inspector General of Police of the region and the Senior Superintendent of Police were out of the country and the Home Ministry at Kathmandu was not aware of their absence.

There was failure all round on the part of intelligence agencies, the police headquarters and the Home ministry in not making a proper assessment of the seriousness of the impending attack.

* That the insurgents could collect more than a thousand of their cadres in a sparsely populated place like the Dolpa district shows that the writ of the government does not run in those places.

Govt’s response.

A special meeting of the Cabinet was held on 25th itself to review the incident. The cabinet expressed serious concern over the "loss of life and property caused by the barbarous and inhuman acts of some terrorists." The Home minister visited the site with senior police officials. An all party meeting was held at the District Headquarters to assure the public and the officials posted in the district that all possible means will be used against the Maoist insurgents and also praised the Police for "saving the country from disgrace." Back in Kathmandu, the Home minister in a press conference declared "We will acquire more sophisticated weapons, revamp the entire police force and seek cooperation of the local people." Having said it, the Home minister resigned not on moral grounds but to "help the committee formed by the government to investigate the incident."

True to form, the government formed a three-member probe panel headed by Additional Inspector General of Police Pradip Shumshere J.B.R to submit a report on the "tragedy" within a week. The nature of directives given to the committee is not known.

What is clear however is that the government is yet to put its act together to deal with the Maoist menace which is reaching alarming proportions. Prime minister G.P.Koirala declared in Washington that he had adopted four strategies to resolve the Maoist problem. First he intends to separate the Maoists from the general public. Second he will take an economic package to the Maoist affected area with the consensus of all political parties, third, keep the administration strong and four, keep the door of negotiation open.

Statements aside, Koirala should give a proper brief to Sher Bahadur Deuba who is negotiating with Maoist leaders. In view of personal differences, Deuba who is heading the committee to negotiate with Maoists feels that he is not being supported by the government and he looks at the problem more as a "humanitarian one." The Home minister on the other hand has differences with Deuba’s approach and looks at it more as a law and order problem. The result is a kind of "action paralysis."

The feud between Bhattarai and Koirala continues:

In the midst of the serious Maoist problem, the feud between Bhattarai and Koirala continues unabated. It appears that Bhattarai was told by some astrologers that he will become a Prime minister once again. Without expressing his wish to become PM again he is attacking Koirala on two grounds. One. That no person should hold two posts that of the Party president and the Prime minister. Two. The second generation should take up the leadership of the party and the government. The second demand would effectively rule out Bhatttarai from gaining the post of Prime minister and it looks therefore that his demands are more for embarrassing Koirala.

Koirala is equally firm in retaining both the posts. In one of the programmes organised by the party in Pokhra, Koirala declared "Since it is on the basis of the party constitution that I have been elected parliamentary leader as well as president of the party, this has helped set a healthy tradition which should be appreciated by all. If we break the tradition and restore the practice of nomination (putting tikka on one’s forehead), it will not augur well for the party and the country."

Some of the well wishers of the party urged both the leaders to meet and talk. When Koirala wanted to meet, Bhattarai declined and wanted Koirala to talk to his representatives. Koirala swallowing all pride met the representatives on August 23rd, but both sides stuck to their demands. Another face to face meeting of the two leaders that took place the next day also ended inconclusively.

Finally on August 27, the two leaders in a dinner meeting at the PM’s official residence arrived at a temporary truce. Koirala agreed to meet four of the five demands made by Bhattarai which were One. Reshuffling the cabinet to accommodate Bhattarai’s representatives Two. Postponing the general convention of the party till the last week of January 2001. Three. Set up a five-member election committee to conduct all elections pertaining to the convention and Four.. Reshuffle the central working committee of the party. The fifth and the most sticky issue namely Koirala’s relinquishing either the party leadership or the premiership was not acceded to.

Nepal needs help:

Nepal is going through a difficult period. The infighting within the ruling party top leadership is affecting good governance. Tourist earnings have come down thanks to the hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane earlier. The relationship between Koirala and the Palace also appears to be going down hill. To cap it all the Maoist problem is reaching serious proportions. In our last update we had given a map of Nepal with areas most affected by insurgency. Many such places are too close for comfort to Kathmandu- the capital. The relationship between the army and the Police after the Dunai incident is also worsening with each side blaming the other.

India could help Nepal in many ways. It has special relations with Nepal which does not mean mere assertion of rights. Nepal’s stability is in India’s interest. India could supply expertise and training in counter insurgency operations as Nepalese Police have no experience in dealing with insurgencies. The Police could be provided with sophisticated arms. The infrastructure in the area most affected by insurgency needs to be developed. There are many senior leaders in India who have considerable influence over both Bhattarai and Koirala. They should persuade the two ambitious old men to sink their differences in the interest of the nation.

For some time, Indian foreign policy appears to be too Pak centric.  Many political analysts also concentrate on India Pakistan relation as it brings attention and perhaps other facilities.  It is time India goes beyond Pakistan and looks to other neighbours.  


Appendix: List of Incidents since last update

Date: Incident

5:  Tularam Dahal, a NC worker was abducted by the Maoists in Gorkha.
In Kalaiya, a policeman was injured by a bullet fired by the Maoists. 
In Kaski, the Maoist insurgent forced their way into the office of the Ghachok Small Farmers Development Project and set fire to some documents.

8:  Radheyshyam Pandit, a Maoist activist of Saptari surrendered before district office.

11:  The Maoist insurgents set the Melung Police Post in Dolkha district on fire, totally destroying the building. All policemen were on patrol at that time.

12:  In Charikot, one policeman got injured when a police team was caught in a booby trap laid by the Maoists.
In an exchange of gunfire between police and the Maoist insurgents in Jajarkot, a policeman, a Maoist and an old lady died. Two policemen sustained critical injuries.

14:  In Achham, a Maoist insurgent was killed in an encounter with the police. Police found some explosives. Some arms were also recovered from the site.
In Tanahu, a Maoist insurgent accused of killing a police personnel was arrested. 
The police also found some ammunition in the Maoist hide-outs in the Kiharn, Gajarkot and Arunodaya VDCs of the district. 
Four members of ANNESU (Revolutionary) were arrested while running a training program at the Arunodaya Secondary School in Pharping. Maoist leaflets and donation pads were seized from them.

17:  In Jhapa, a group of Maoists looted a licensed gun, land ownership certificates and some valuable documents from two residents of the Dharampur VDC.

18:  In Sindhupalchok, one policeman died and another sustained serious injuries when some 
Maoists attacked a police team at Sanusinbari VDC.
In Baglung, three Maoists were arrested from the Pala VDC for blasting a home-made bomb.

20:  In Sunsari, a group of Maoist looted three double barrel guns and six bullets from the Kailali VDC.

22:  A group of Maoist insurgents hacked to death Shiva Prasad Bhatta, headmaster of the Mandali Primary School in the Pondrung VDC of Gorkha.

23:  In Lalitpur a bomb was exploded at the residence of the Home Minister.

23-24:  Insurgents exploded bombs in 17 districts including the capital. Ten people were killed.

24:  In an incident in Kathmandu some suspected Maoists set fire to and hurled home-made bombs at some buses parked inside the premises of the Modern Indian School at Chovar.
In Nawalparasi, one Policeman died and four others sustained serious injuries when some Maoist insurgents attacked a police post in the Dauladi VDC.
In Dhangadhi, the insurgents looted Rs.100,000 and five guns from a Rashtriya Banijya Bank Branch office the Bhojani VDC.
In Jhapa, the insurgents exploded a hand grenade in a plastic factory.
In Rautahat, the Maoists set fire to the Baba Distillery. 
In Lamjung,the Maoists destroyed a police post at Dhamilikuwa.
In Kalaiya the Maoists exploded a bomb at the Land tax Office.
In Rukum , two Maoists insurgents were killed in the separate encounters with the police.
In Sindhuli, three Maoists and two policemen were killed in the course of an encounter.

26:  Three Maoist insurgents, including an Area Commander, surrendered themselves to the District Administration Office in Doti.
In Dolpa, another Maoist, Rana Bahadur Budha, surrendered himself to the Chief Distict Officer.

27:  In Gorkha, one Maoist insurgent was killed in an encounter between the police and the Maoists at Chihan Danda..

28:  In Bajura, three Maoist insurgents surrendered themselves to the Bajura District Administration.

29:  A Maoist insurgent was killed and a civilian suffered injuries in an encounter with the police in the Phurkot VDC in Kalikot.
The Maoists exploded bombs at the Patan Industrial Area in Lalitpur, causing minor damage.
In Taplejung, the Maoists looted eight licensed guns.

30:  The Maoist exploded bombs at the Vishwa Gorkha Academy, a local school at Baneshwor in Kathmandu. 
In Morang, the Maoist issued a warning to the headmasters of the local public school not to collect fees from the students.
In Baglung, Mohan Chandra Rajan, headmaster of a local school, was abducted by the Maoists.

Date: Incident

1: A powerful bomb wrapped in a plastic bag was found at the residence of the NC Secretary, Sushil Koirala at Buddhanagar in Kathmandu. The Bomb was defused later.
The Maoist insurgents abducted the headmaster of a high school in Galkot.
In Kanchanpur, a group of Maoist insurgent set fire to important documents of the Rural Development Bank.
In Rautahat, two Maoist insurgents surrendered themselves to the District Administration Office.
In Kalikot, the Maoist insurgent shot dead Man Singh Shahi, a local NC leader. Two others were also injured in the incident.
In Taramarang of Sindhupalchok, the Maoists destroyed a police post in a bomb attack.

2:  The Maoist insurgents blasted eight pipe bombs at the Simkhet of the Melamchi VDC in Sindhupalchok in an attempt to kill a 19-member police patrol team. However, no policeman was hurt.

3:  In Dolpa, four Maoist activists surrendered themselves before the local Administration.

5:  In Kavre, a Maoist insurgent was killed in an encounter with the police.

6:  In Nalma VDC of Lamjung, a Maoist insurgent was killed in an encounter.
A group of Maoist insurgents dug out seven home-made guns from a cache of an abandoned police post.
In Jumla, Kon Singh Lama, a Maoist Commander, surrendered.

9:  In Surkhet, the Maoist insurgents abducted two policemen from Sallibazar.

10:  Police rescued ten teachers of the Himalaya High School at Khola Gaon in Rukum who were taken to an unknown place by the Maoist insurgents at gunpoint.

11:  In Sankhuwasbha, the Maoist insurgents hacked to death one NC worker Ram Kumar Samyang. 
In Tanahu, headmasters of several public schools told the District Education Office that they could not teach Sanskrit, one of the compulsory subjects, due to the threat of the Maoists.
In Dailekh, a Maoist insurgent, Ambakali Nepali, surrendered before local administration.

13:  A group of suspected Maoist insurgents blew up a police post in the Kharagaon VDC of Makwanpur district.

14:  Tularam,Sharma Kandel, a school teacher from Bakuwa Shivapur of Bardiya was hacked to death by the Maoist insurgents.

15:  In Kalikot, four Maoist insurgents, including a woman died in a cross-fire between the rebels and a police striking force at the Raku VDC.

16:  Rajendra Prasad Yadav, the abducted District Education Officer of Rolpa, was released by the Maoist insurgents after 96 days of captivity.

17:  A group of armed Maoist insurgents flogged headmaster of the Nepal Rastriya Primary School at the Badalpur VDC in Guleriya, alleging him of assisting the police.

19:  The NCP (Maoist) Commander based in Bajura district, Dhanraj Buda, surrendered himself to the district administration. Earlier two political commissars of the NCP (Maoist) had surrendered.

22.  In Dang, the Maoist insurgents abducted a local NC leader, Madan Kumar Sharma.
In Jajarkot, the Maoist held local elections at the Kotjahari VDC. 
In Rautahat, 35 Maoist insurgents surrendered to the local administration., while in Jumla two Maoist insurgents did so.

23:  According to the Musikot DDC President, the Maoist insurgents were not allowing the Chairmen of Pokhara, Kakri and Malikot VDCs to leave their village for the past three months.

24:  Two Maoist insurgents of the Pandusain VDC of Bajura and of the Mahadevpuri VDC of Banke surrendered to the local administration.

25:  12 policeman died and 40 others sustained in a pre-dawn attack launched by the Maoist insurgents across Dunai, the district headquarters of Dolpa. Insurgents also looted about Rs 60 million from the branch office of the Nepal Bank Ltd., broke into the prison and set free 19 prisoners and bombed the office of the Chief District Officer. Over 1000 Maoist had launched the attack. Eleven policemen guarding the local jail were also abducted. The CDO office, the district police headquarters, the district jail and several government-owned office were devastated in the attack. The reinforcement of police came just in time for the battle. 14 of the 19 prisoner surrendered themselves. The remaining five were those suspected to be Maoist insurgents. The Central Commission of the NCP (Maoist) accepted responsibility of the incident.
In Dailekh, Chandra Prasada Chaulagain, Militia Commander of Area No. 3, surrendered to the local administration

26:  In Rukum, Chairman of Syalakhadi VDC and Chairman of the Gotambot VDC, resigned from their post under pressure from the Maoists.

27:  The Maoist insurgents attacked a police post at the Bhorletar Area Police Post in Lamjung. Eight policeman were killed and three sustained injuries in the incident. 
In Nuwakot, police and the Maoists exchanged fire for about five hours when the latter attacked the police post at the Sikre VDC. No casualty was however, reported.

28:  In Jajarkot, the Maoist insurgents abducted Lag Bahadur Singh, Assistant Headmaster of the Bishwa Primary School, in the ShaklaVDC.
Maoist insurgents issued notices to cinema hall owners to donate Rs. 100,000 each.
50 armed persons shouting Maoist slogans broke into the house of a local resident in the Phulbariya VDC of Bara and looted Rs 200,000 in cash and a gun.