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NEPAL - update no. 8: Problems galore

 

Note No. 121                             21.02.2001

by S. Chandrasekharan

The Koirala government is facing problems all round. Internally, the Maoist menace is developing into a major security problem with the army now being drafted in sixteen districts. The quarrel between Koirala and Bhattarai over party presidentship though settled with the election of Koirala for another term, the rift between the two camps continues unabated to the detriment of the ruling party. And Kathmandu burst into violence on a trivial affair over Indian film star Hrithik Roshan’s supposed anti Nepali remarks.

The Maoists continue with their depredations. In October within a space of two weeks, 22 policemen were killed in separate clashes with Maoists in Dolpa and Lamjung. Realising the seriousness of the situation, the government decided on a two pronged strategy- one- to call the Maoists for a dialogue and two- to use the army in a structured manner. Army personnel have now been deployed in 16 districts most severely affected by insurgency. They have however not been given independent operational role but mobilised and kept at the disposal of the Chief District Officers. Joint patrolling by the army and Police has also begun in the six "Maoist hotbed " districts of mid western region.

In inducting the army, Koirala is fully aware of the pitfalls and wants to hand over the problem to the army as a last resort. In one of the meetings he declared on January 14, that his strategy is to deploy the ordinary police and if it fails the armed police force now being formed by an ordinance and if that too fails, "mobilisation of the army will be the final step."

In inducting the army "to save the life and property of the countrymen" the Defence Minister Mahesh Acharya declared his readiness to talk to the Maoists and went a step further and said that he is ready for legal reforms to create a dialogue friendly environment. Having said that government has gone ahead and set up a special court in December to investigate and try cases against insurgents. The court is being given sweeping powers- to file cases, investigate and seek evidence on its own. This step is hardly conducive to have dialogue with the insurgents and secondly it is likely to be challenged in the court on constitutional grounds.

Meanwhile on the initiative of Padma Ratna Tuladhar, a human rights activist, the Deputy Prime minister Ram Chandra Paudel held informal talks with a senior member of the NCP (Maoist) in Kathmandu and reported the outcome as positive.

The Deuba Committee submitted its report on the Maoist problem on November 7. The report termed the Maoist insurgency as an activity with "political objectives" and described it as a political problem arising from the country’s socio economic structure

Amidst rumblings Koirala got himself elected again.  In the tenth General convention of the Nepali Congress party which started on January 17th, Koirala was reelected as Party President polling 936 out of 1468 ballots cast. Prior to the election, intense negotiations took place to persuade Koirala to step down from the party post and give it to the younger generation leaders like Deuba. Koirala summarily turned down the demand. This election only proved to be too divisive and rumblings within the party will continue to trouble the leadership unless Koirala who already is old and frail begins to look for and groom younger leaders to take over the leadership.

Violent Demonstrations in Kathmandu on December 26th and 27th left many dead.  Five persons including two minors were killed and hundreds including policemen were injured in the course of demonstrations by leftists over alleged remarks of Indian film actor Hrithik Roshan. Indian establishments were particular targets and the Marwari Sewa Samithi in the heart of the town was said to have been attacked over twenty times by different sets of agitators. Indian tourists were stranded and no hotels were willing to provide them shelter.

It could be argued that only the leftists were involved and the demonstrations were mainly in the valley where anti Indian sentiments are felt more. But the Indian policy makers should take note of the fact that the riots are but a symbol of the underlying fears and resentment Nepal and Nepalese have against India. Absence of political interaction is one factor. Visits like the one of Bhattarai on the invitation of government of India in the first week of December are few and far between. The open border which should be seen as a boon to the people of both countries is viewed with suspicion by both countries. There is no regular interaction at the official levels when activities like civil works affecting both sides of the border take place.

Perhaps the most serious grievance which Nepal has over India, is in some of the provisions in the Indo Nepal treaty which appear to be humiliating to the Nepalese. The Nepalese foreign secretary was in India from Jan 29 to 30th to attend the Secretary level meetings. The issue of revision of the 1950 treaty came up. Both sides will have to make up their minds as to what kind of relationship which each side wants. This is all the more necessary as Nepal will have to address Indian security concerns particularly the open border and its relations with the northern neighbour in making the revisions.

Nepal’s interactions with China continue to grow. A second all weather road link to Kathmandu from Tibet is being put in place with the construction of the Keyirong-Rasuagarhi- Syabrubensi highway. This was the ancient China-Nepal route before the Chinese constructed the Kathmandu-Kodari Highway. The Chinese Defence Minister is expected to visit Nepal for four days in the last week of February. The King of Nepal is also expected to pay a state visit to China during the same period. Was there any mutual consultation? Has India ever consulted Nepal on its security problems in general? It is time that a serious review is made of the Indo Nepal treaty and remove the humiliating provisions of the treaty which does no good to either country.

 Some disturbing trends  in Maoist incidents are seen  .These are:

* The Maoist insurgents have become more daring. They attacked the convoy of Chief Justice on 5th February at Surkhet. While the Chief Justice escaped five of the party were killed in the attack. In Kathmandu itself the house of Sushil Koirala, the Nepali Congress General Secretary was bombed on 31st December. In Bharatpur while the Dy. Prime minister and Home minister were camping, the Maoists bombed a nearby Police Post on 20th December. The house of Minister for Science and Technology was bombed and looted in Parsa district on 15th January.

* In Dunai, the headquarters of Dolpa district witnessed yet another attack on 3rd October and a Police man was killed. Dunai was the scene of a devastating attack on 25th September earlier, with 12 policemen killed and another 11 policemen kidnapped. No security measures to defend the town had been taken in spite of the savagery of the previous attack.

* Places which were hitherto comparatively free like Taplejung, Dharan and Rautahat witnessed major incidents. In Rautahat Maoists removed 18 rifles from the Police station and kidnapped the Police Inspector.

*. To win over the poorer sections of the people the Maoists in many places looted food grains to be distributed among the poor. Kidnapping with a view to exchange Maoists in jail is also being undertaken.

Despite the tall talks, appointment of special courts and setting of army posts in the more affected regions, the incidents relating to Maoist insurgency have only increased both in terms of geographic spread and intensity.

Appendix:  List of incidents:

October:
Date: Incident

2:  Nine armed Maoist insurgents broke into the Nepal Bank Ltd. sub-branch office at Jiri in Dolkha and looted Rs 264,000 in cash, three 12-bore guns and 48 rounds of ammunition.
In Syangja, Maoist insurgents attacked and seriously injured an NC worker.
In Lamgunj, the Maoist insurgents disconnected the telephone communication and destroyed a PCO at the Gilung VDC.
A group of about 50 Maoist insurgents attacked and injured Birendra Shahi, and Birkha Bahadur Shahi of the Daha VDC in Kalikot. The Maoists also bombed the house of the Chairman of the Association of the Victims of Maoist, Durga Bahadur Shahi, and looted property worth Rs 2 million from the house of Shakti Malla, a member of the association of the same VDC.
A group of Maoist insurgents attacked a police post located at the eastern part of Dunai, district headquarters of Dolpa. In an exchange of fire, one policeman was killed and another injured.
Maoist insurgents abducted four persons, including two teachers, from the Katti VDC of Dailekh.
There was an exchange of fire between the police and the Maoists at the Sarkena Khola village in Rukum. One insurgent was killed in the incident.
The Maoist insurgents abducted Mani Ram Regmi, Secretary of the Dailekh district unit of the NC. The District President of the Tarun Dal, the young wing of the NC, was also abducted.

16:  In Doti, the Maoist insurgents abducted a police head constable.
At the Chuha VDC in Dhangadhi, Maoist insurgents brutally lynched Dil Bahadur Chaudhary and his nephew, Kedar Chaudhary.

17: In Bajura, the Maoist guerrillas killed a villager and severely beat up nine others at the Pandusian VDC for having allowed the establishment of a police post in their village.

18:  Tam Bahadur Thapa, an NC leader of Myagdi, was brutally beaten by a group of about 30 Maoist insurgents.

19: In Kalikot, a Maoist guerrilla was killed in the course of a three-hour exchange of fire between the police and the Maoists in the jungle of the Mumra VDC.
In Terhathum, the Maoists destroyed the Chuhandanda Police Post with a powerful bomb.

20:  In Kalikot, the Maoist insurgents abducted four persons, including a teacher, from the Raku VDC.

21:  Maoist insurgents released an Assistant Sub-inspector of Police Khum Bahadur Khatri whom they had abducted from Salli Bazar in Salyan district on September10.

23: A Maoist insurgent was killed in a clash between the Maoist insurgents and a police patrol team in the Raku VDC.

24:  In Morang, the Maoist insurgents occupied the Sunpakuwa Secondary School of the Mangalbore VDC for about 45 minutes and ordered the teachers and students to immediately stop singing the national anthem and teaching of Sanskrit.

25:  In Patan, a group of Maoist insurgents shot dead a police head constable while on his way to take up his new assignment at the Syaulibang police post in Kaski district.

27 : The Police rescued Ratna Prasad Rijal, President of the Dailekh Unit of the Tarun Dal, who had been abducted by the Maoist on October10.
In Kalaiya, the Maoist insurgents hacked to death Ram Chandra Chaudhary on the charge of being a police informer.

28:  In Achham, a Maoist insurgent was killed in an encounter with the police.

30:  Five Maoist insurgents died in an encounter with the police in Kotbada VDC of Kalikot.

31:  In Salyan, the Maoists insurgents forced the closure of 11 out of the 20 private schools operating in the district in line with their policy of "maintaining uniformity in the education sector."
In Jajarkot, Bhim Bahadur Pun, Chairman of the Dandagaon VDC, was tried by a "people’s court" of the Maoists for having defied the Maoist order not to continue his political activities and to vacate the VDC office and hand over all official papers. The "court" decided to release him after collecting a security deposit of Rs. 50,000.

November:
Date: Incident

1: Geeta Shahi, a female Maoist Commander of Tanahu district, was arrested from the Bor Bhanjyang VDC.
Two Maoist insurgents were arrested from the Narayanpur VDC of Kailali.
In Kalikot, a 14-years old Maoist insurgent of the Badalkot VDC surrendered himself to the local administration.
Six other Maoist insurgents belonging to the Local People’s Rule Management Committee of the Sipakhasa VDC of the same district also surrendered themselves to the local police Striking Base recently.

3:Deepak Devkota, a Maoist regional Commander, died in an encounter with the police at the Chairung VDC of Gorkha.

5: The Maoist insurgents attacked a police post at the Doramba VDC in Rautahat. In the clash that followed, a policeman was killed and seven other sustained serious injuries. The insurgents abducted a police inspector and also took away 18 rifles. The police station was completely destroyed by fire.
In Bhadrapur, a group of 26 Maoist insurgents looted an office of the small Farmers Development Project at Mahabhara VDC.

6:  In Musikot, the Maoist insurgents harvested the paddy grown on 20 ropanis of Guthi land belonging to Digre Shaikumari Bhagawati Temple at the Syalapakha VDC.
The Maoist insurgents abducted Upendra Malla, Joint Secretary of the Rukum district committee of the NC.

7:  In Hetauda, the Maoist insurgents hurled a bomb at the Survey Office, destroying property worth Rs 20,000.
In Dharan, a powerful bomb exploded in the night at the area Administration Office of the Sunsari District Administration Office.

8:  In Nepalgunj, Maoist insurgents attacked and injured Nara Bahadur Giri, a member of the Maoist Victims Association of Jajarkot.
The Maoist insurgents released Police Inspector Dilip Gurung, whom they had abducted on November 5 from the police post at the Doramba VDC of Ramechhap.
Dipak Devkota, a Maoist Commander, was killed in a recent clash (date not known) between the Maoists and the police at the Ghairuggaon VDC in Gorkha.

10:  In Beagling, Bharat Sherchan, an NC leader, was shot dead by the Maoist insurgents.

11:  Mani Ram Regmi, Secretary of the Dailekh district unit of the NC who had been abducted by the Maoists a month earlier, managed to escape.

12:  The Maoist insurgents released NC workers Hansa Bahadur Dangi and Dharma Singh Sahi of Jumla whom they had abducted on November 21.

28:  In Kalikot, three persons were arrested on the suspicion of being Maoists activists.
In the same district, a Maoist insurgent was killed in an encounter with the police, while the Maoists killed two local people whom they had abducted some time ago.
In Rukum, the Maoists abducted two policemen.
The Maoists announced their decision to release Shayam Nath Kashyap, the Arghakhanchi Secretary of the NC in exchange for the unconditional release of its two workers, Suman Gharti Magar and Thakur Nepal.

29: Eleven policemen were killed and eight others injured in a Police-Maoist encounter which took place after the Maoists attacked the Area Police Office located at the Kumal Village of Kalikot district in the night.

December
Date: Incident

2 : In Sindhuli, the Maoist insurgents burnt down a temporary police post located in the Jarayotar VDC.
In Nuwakot, 18 policemen left their post at Samundratar and reached Kharanitar after a group of Maoist insurgents attacked the post on December 2

4 : A group of Maoist Insurgents captured a Phaplung-bound helicopter of the Asian Airlines at the Tingla helipad in Solukhumbu district, painted its interior and exterior with anti-government slogans, and got all those on board to sign an agreement to the effect that the airlines would not let its aircraft be used by the army and the police or for suppressing the people’s war, and that it would not carry consumer goods from Jiri and Katri.

5:  In Patan, the Maoist insurgents abducted Basu Gautam, a local school teacher.

6:  In Dhankuta, the Maoist insurgents set fire to a building being constructed for the Chhintag Area Office.

7:  In Achham, a woman Maoist was killed in an encounter with the police. A group of 15 armed Maoist insurgents had attacked the police, but the other Maoists fled the scene after the woman was killed.

9:  In Kalikot, the Maoist insurgents abducted Devendra Neupane, Chairman of the Kipkhana VDC and ML leader.

11: Some suspected armed Maoists looted cash and valuables from the residence of one Jeevan Kharel in the Taratal VDC of Banke. The masked men were clad in army uniform and star-marked caps.

12:  The Maoists looted two houses in the Ramganj Balgachhiya VDC of Sunsari.
In Siraha, three persons who were abducted by the Maoists some time earlier were released.
Bini Bahadur Shahi a Maoist assistant area commander of Dailekh, Bin Bahadur Dangi, a member of the Salyan district unit of ANNFSU (Revolutionary), and Geeta Kumari Singh, a Maoist activist, surrendered to the local administration.
In Taplejung, the Maoist insurgents locked the office of the Lumphabung VDC after inaugurating the ninth Village Council meeting. A Maoist notice pasted on a notice board warned of severe consequences for anyone who attempted to break the lock.

14:  In Rukum, the Maoist insurgents set free four policemen and a student whom they had abducted earlier.

17:  A group of 50 Maoist insurgents raided the house of Chandra Bhattarai in the Bayaraban VDC of Morang district and looted more than 100 maunds of paddy and rice, and distributed them among the landless people there.
In the Hatthiya VDC of Makwanpur district, a group of about 100 Maoists looted about 2.5 tons of freshly harvested paddy from the houses of five different sharecroppers of the land owned by one Rameshwar Shrestha.
In Rolpa, Bam Bahadur Budha, a school teacher, who had been abducted by the Maoists two months ago, managed to escape.

18:  In Siraha, the Maoist insurgents looted arms and gold from three VDCs.
Two persons were later arrested on suspicion of being Maoist insurgents.
A Maoist insurgent was killed in an exchange of fire between the police and a group of Maoists in the Nuwakot VDC of Rukum.

20: A group of suspected Maoist insurgents hurled two bombs and destroyed a police station being constructed at Yagnyapuri in Bharatpur. The Deputy Prime minister and Home Minister were in Bharatpur when the incident occurred.
In Rajbiraj, the police re-arrested under the Public Security Act two suspected Maoists who were released on December 8.
In Khotang, Rajesh Rai, a Maoist insurgent surrendered himself before police.

22:  In Arghakhanchi, the Maoists released Shyam Nath Kashyap Ghimire, NC District Secretary and District President of the Landless Problems Resolution Committee, in exchange for the release of Thakur Nepa. A Maoist worker. K. B. Bhusal, an independent leftist worker, had mediated.

23:  In a clash between local people and a group of Maoist insurgents at the Bhasedawa VDC of Rautahat, a Maoist had sustained serious injuries.

24:  In Kalaiya, seven activists of ANNFSU (Revolutionary) were arrested when they were holding a meeting at a school in the Prasaina VDC.

25:  In Mahendranagar, Puskar Sharma, who was being detained since 1997 on the suspicion of being involved in the Maoist activities was released on the order of the Mahendranagar Appellate Court, but re-arrested immediately by plain clothesmen.

26:  In Tanahu, three policemen were killed and one injured in an ambush laid by the Maoist insurgents in the jungle of Sirkot under the Bhirkot VDC.
In Lamjung, a group of suspected Maoists looted Rs 21,000 and other valuables from three houses in the western Karapu VDC.
A woman Maoist worker was killed in a clash between the Maoists and a police patrol at the Asharang VDC of Gorkha.

31 In Nuwakot, armed Maoist insurgents attacked NC workers Hom Bahadur Pathak and Lila Raj Pathak, and looted their cash and property at the Thanapati VDC.
In Sindhupalchok, a Maoist cadre was killed in an explosion while laying booby traps.
In Kathmandu, socket bombs caused minor damages to the residences of NC General Secretary Sushil Koirala, State Minister for Education Dilendra Prasad Badu and ex-Home Minister Govinda Raj Joshi in the evening. No one was injured. The Maoists claimed responsibility for the incidents.

January
Date: Incident

1:  A Maoist insurgent was killed when a bomb he was carrying exploded at the Khaireni VDC of Chitwan

3:  An armed group of Maoist insurgents looted cash and valuables from four houses in the Raikabar Bichawa VDC of Kanchanpur.

4 : The Maoist insurgents set fire to a police station at Ghodemora in Jhapa. No policeman was at the station when the incident occurred.
In Terhathum, the insurgents torched a police post at Lasure Bazar, and severely beat up the head constable.
In Kanchanpur, a group of Maoist insurgents attacked and looted the local people in the various places of the Raikbar Bichawa VDC.
A group of Maoist insurgents abducted a Junior Technical Assistant of the District Livestock Services Office of Jajarkot in the night.
In Tanahu, the Maoist insurgents broke the limbs of Dambar Bahadur Rana, Chairman of the Majkot VDC Unit of the NC.
In Arghakhanchi, they set fire to an office of the small Farmers Project at the Arghatos VDC, causing a loss of about Rs 60,000.
In Ilam, the Jirmale-based police post was torched by the Maoist insurgents. The insurgents also looted four sets of police uniforms.
The Maoist insurgents hurled socket bombs and exchanged gunfire with the police in two police stations in Sindhupalchok. No casualty reported.

8:  In Jumla, a group of Maoist insurgents looted cash and food grains from the house of NC worker.
In Jhapa, the Maoist insurgents burnt down two motorcycles and took away some property belonging to the Chairman of the Srijana Community Forest accusing him of being involved in timber smuggling.
In Palpa, the Maoist insurgents exploded a powerful bomb at Bijaypur.

9:  In Salyan, seven Maoists, including a woman, surrendered themselves to the local administration.
In Jajarkot, the Maoist insurgents abducted four persons, including the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and two Ward Chairmen of the Shokhla VDC, on the charge of attempting to hold a meeting of the Village Council.

11:  Seven Maoist insurgents, including a woman, were killed and a policeman was injured in an exchange of fire between the Maoists and the police at the Fukot VDC of Kalikot.

15:  The Vice-Chairman and a Ward-Chairman of the Sakatiya VDC in Jajarkot district were abducted by the Maoist insurgents.
The Maoist insurgents set off a pressure cooker bomb at the house of the Minister of Science and Technology, Surendra Prasad Chaudhary, in the Sonbarsha VDC of Parsa district, causing minor damage to the house and destroying two motorcycles and five bicycles parked outside the house. The insurgents also looted Gold and Silver jewellery from the houses of the Minister and his brothers.

16 : The insurgents released six ward chairmen of the Shakla VDC, out of a total of eight persons abducted by them 10 days ago.
In Dolakha, four policemen were injured in an ambush laid by the insurgents.
At the Ichok VDC of Sinhupalchok, the Maoist insurgents ransacked the office of the Community Self Reliance Center and took away computers typewriters, etc.

18:  The Maoist insurgents set fire to all the documents of the office of the Ghumkhahare VDC in Surkhet.
The Maoists also looted medicines worth Rs 10,000 from a weekly clinic at the same VDC.
In the Jante VDC of Morang district, a group of Maoist insurgents forcibly took away a digital camera from the team taking photographs to prepare voters identity cards.

19:  Sridhar Bhattarai, customs Inspector at the Tatopani Customs Office , was killed in an attack by about 400 Maoist insurgents at Jambu of the Ganti VDC near Barabise of Sindhupalchok.

22:  A group of Maoist insurgents looted goods worth Rs. 150,000 belonging to the World View Nepal, an NGO, in the Melche VDC of Nuwakot.

23 : Three policemen were killed in an ambush laid by the Maoist insurgents at Daregauda in the Bhamel VDC of Gorkha.

24:  A Group of Maoist insurgents severely beat up Bal Bahadur Bista, Vice Chairman of the Chuha VDC Dhangadhi.
In Kailali, Maoist insurgents looted one 12-bore gun and one American Mauser pistol with six cartridges from the house of one former Sub-Inspector of Police.

26:  Maoist insurgents shot dead Man Bahudur Khatri, Vice Chairman of the Jagtipur VDC of Jajarkot.

27: Suspected Maoist insurgents burnt all goods and documents of a local shop at Thulassain Bazar in Janali Bandeli aaaVDC of Achham District.
The Maoist insurgents set fire to a temporary police post at the Marek Katahare VDC of Dhankuta.
In Tanahu, two Maoist insurgents were arrested along with two socket bombs and other explosives near the Bandipur Bazar.
The Maoist insurgents looted the documents of Thalachour and Sima VDCs of Kalikot.

February
Date: Incident

1:  At Sonapur VDC of Sunsari, the Maoist insurgents looted some property from a function organised at a local school on the occasion of Saraswati puja. The insurgents also beat up those who were drinking alcohol.

2:  In Tanahu, two Maoist district-level commanders were arrested from Bandipur Bazar along with some explosives.
The Maoist insurgents set fire to the small farmers Cooperative Offfice at the Prithvinagar VDC of Jhapa.

3:  Some unidentified person shouting Maoist slogans shot dead Kirti Kumar Joshi, regional president of NC in Saptari.

5:  In Gorkha, a Maoist leader, Basanta Barakoti, was arrested.
The Maoist insurgents attacked and injured Chin Bahadur Ale, an NC worker and Chairman of the Samsung Bhagawatipur VDC of Tanahu District.
The convoy of Chief Justice was attacked at Painasathhi in Surkhet district Maoist insurgents. While the Chief Justice escaped unhurt, s senior official of the Surkhet appellate court and four security guards accompanying the Chief Justice were killed. One other judge and two security men accompanying the party were also injured. The Maoists claimed that they were not aware that the convoy had the Chief Justice in one of the vehicles.

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