Southern Nepal Conflict: When Criminals Take Charge of Demonstrations

A peace rally in Jhapa

With the heinous killing of Assistant Sub Inspector Naresh Jung Karki in Biratnagar this evening, it has become crystal clear that the ongoing movement in eastern Terai is more than just an expression of political dissatisfaction: it is overwhelmingly dominated by criminal intentions. To carry swords, iron rods and go on rampage in residential area can’t be a political demonstration. To demand federalism and proportional representation in election is a political work but to continue with murderous activities even after listening the genuine answer from the government established by the peoples’ movement is a deplorable act. Today’s killing of the policeman and other violent activities in the recent past in eastern Terai marks the spectacular comeback of royalist elements in political scenario that were sidelined by people in April. It was an open secret that they would seek ways for comeback to try their best to make democracy a failure. They will do anything to create the impression that monarchy is needed in Nepal. They used the Maoist movement in the past for the same and now they are trying to deliver this message: look what’s happening when king is sidelined. They will do everything to turn these demonstrations into full fledged communal conflict in Nepal which will ultimately weaken peoples’ united power to run the government.

How can anyone justify the brutal killing of a policeman? [ASI Naresh Jung Karki was leading a 13-member police team at Buddhanagar, Biratnagar at 5 pm this evening. Criminals associating themselves with the Madheshi Peoples’ Rights Forum (MPRF) surrounded the police team and barbarically killed Karki to death by using knives and swords. The protesters, according to eKantipur, also abducted three other policemen after attacking them with sharp weapons, sources said. The criminals also took away 2 rifles and a pistol from the policemen. In retaliation, the police had opened fire on them. The bloody protests in southeastern Nepal have already claimed the lives of ten people over the past two weeks.] How can you justify a movement that, it seems, doesn’t believe in talks? Even the Maoists, who were waging a violent war, came to the talks table and engaged themselves in peace process. But these elements that are spreading violence in Madhesh under the cover of political demands are exposing themselves as days are passing. They will put forward one nonsense demand after another as the government goes on addressing them. The government must use its machinery to expose infiltrating criminal elements. It has partially done so by arresting Kamal Thapa, Badri Mandal and Salim Ansari but this must be intensified. We are running out of time.

Prachanda Says

CPN-Maoist Chairman Prachanda today assured that the eight parties would address the demands of the Madhesi people since an agreement in principle for a federal democratic setup had already been reached. Prachanda made the comments today while talking to the media after a meeting with representatives of various human right organizations. He also added that homework was being done to implement a proportional electoral model in the country. Prachanda further claimed that the demands of the Terai community were also the demands raised by his own party, adding that this had make things “easier” for him. He also assured that the CPN-M was taking the issue of the Madhesi movement very seriously.

Koirala on TV, Addresses Madheshi Demands

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala appeared on national television a few minutes ago to tell the country that the government has agreed to address the key demands put forward by the agitating Madheshi groups in southern Nepal. That wasn’t exactly what we call an address to nation (Koirala was addressing a gathering of selected leaders from different political parties and that was broadcast live on at least two TV stations in Kathmandu, around Nepal and abroad via satellite links) but Koirala delivered the message effectively. In the beginning he gave unwritten speech in his own trademark style. Then he grabbed a written statement and read out the content. That statement contained the decisions made by the eight parties in the past several hours on the ongoing Madheshi movement.

girija prasad koirala addressing nation

Prime Minister Koirala seemed genuine and honest in his words. He said that he was worried about the possible involvement reactionary forces in the agitation. Prime Minister Koirala said he was worried about not being able to hold election of constituent assembly election on time, a key mandate, he said, of the April uprising. Prime Minister emphasized that the problem in Terai was internal and Nepalis themselves should solve it. This country belongs to all of us Nepalis, he said, it doesn’t belong to any one individual. He said the government has decided include federal governance structure in the upcoming constitution to be formulated by the Constituent Assembly. He also said the electoral constituencies will be revised on the basis of population. While doing so, the Prime Minister said, no existing constituencies in districts will be removed.

NOW, the movement in Terai (Southern Nepal) that is increasingly turning into communal and secessionist MUST be stopped. AND the state of Nepal must focus itself to the election of Constituent Assembly.

Terai News: Lamas Looted, Meetings in Kathmandu, Threat to Journalist

Several buses carrying passengers and escorted by Armed Police Force were attacked yesterday night in front of Chinimill area in Birgunj. Around 29 buses had left the town for Kathmandu at 11 PM. Around 11:20 PM scoundrels attacked the vehicles, smashed wind glasses, and looted the books, clothes, and other belongings of Buddhist monks (Lamas). Attackers, suspected activists of Madheshi Peoples’ Rights Forum (MPRF), looted belongings of Lamas who were returning from Bodh Gaya, India. 43 Lamas were traveling. In the photo above, a Lama shows a book. He said that books like this one were looted. All pics by Subodh Singh Continue reading Terai News: Lamas Looted, Meetings in Kathmandu, Threat to Journalist

A Minister Resigns to Play Vote Politics As Tension Continues in Eastern Terai

Members of Armed Police Force (APF) heading towards eastern Terai where demonstrations are happening in the past 11 days. Five buses full of policemen passed from Chitwan. Pic by Dipendra Baduwal

So Hridayesh Tripathi resigned from the Cabinet, huh? Why? This is his version: “The Seven Party Alliance (of which his party Nepal Sadbhabana Party (A) is a member) is not serious enough over the present turmoil in the Terai region. The eight parties (Maoist included) have failed to show the level of seriousness that merits the present situation. Madhesh is moving ahead with its genuine demands regarding the proportional electoral procedure and federal setup, among others. We had issued a note of dissent on the very day the interim constitution was promulgated on 15 January, however, there has been no hearing.”

It might appear that Tripathi is genuinely concerned about the movement that is going on in Terai region but make no mistake he is more worried about losing vote banks than the “genuine demands.” We have rarely seen a minister in Nepal resigning on real issues. Who can forget that Tripathi was until recently fighting within his party to be nominated in the cabinet? Anyway he was suffering from jaundice and was blaming the poor quality of drinking water in his ministry (Commerce, Industry and Supplies). He wasn’t working so his departure shouldn’t come as a blow to the day to day affairs of the government. Nevertheless his outing must be taken seriously by the government in terms of dealing with the politics that is intensifying in Terai. Members of SPA-M are divided over one demand (proportional electoral procedure). Nepali Congress, the party of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, has different view on this issue. Nepali Congress might be correct on its stand and the issue must be seriously discussed before taking any decision. But that must happen soon. First, the SPA and Maoists must come up with one voice. Yes they did so in Interim Constitution but it has by now proved that that wasn’t sufficient to address the grievances of people in Terai.

Participants in a peace rally organized by locals in Rani area in Biratnagar. The eastern industrial town remained relatively peaceful today. Pic by Bhim Ghimire Continue reading A Minister Resigns to Play Vote Politics As Tension Continues in Eastern Terai

Nepal Terai Tension: Protests Continue, Media Targeted

Photos from yesterday’s protests

bhairahawa maoist harmony rally

Himal, Pahad, Terai: Kohi Chhaina Parai CPN Maoist organized rally in Bhairahawa that stressed on communal harmony in Nepali society. Many activists associated with other political parties and general citizens took part in the rally to protest communal incidents in eastern Terai recently. Pics by Madhav Dhungana Continue reading Nepal Terai Tension: Protests Continue, Media Targeted

Birgunj Protest and Chitwan Rally

For the record (Photos from yesterday protests): Saturday saw continuity in protests violating the curfew orders in Birgunj. Demonstrators set afire a small hotel and destroyed half of dozen vehicles. All pics by Subodh Singh

>>>The situation in the eastern Terai region that has been under the grip of unrest for the past few weeks did not seem to improve today as well. Another protester was killed in police firing in Kalaiya, Bara today. Police opened fire on the protesters when the agitated Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) activists defied the curfew orders, according to eKantipur. Sporadic demonstrations are being carried out at various places in the region since early this morning. The local administrations in Kalaiya, Janakpur and Birgunj imposed daytime curfew so as to curb any untoward situation in the cities. A 13-hour curfew has been imposed in Kalaiya, Bara, where the situation seemed to go berserk today following the death of a protester there yesterday, to thwart any violent activities. The local administration has imposed a curfew from 8am to 9pm in order to control bring the situation under control. Similarly, in Janakpur, local administration has imposed a nine-hour curfew – 8am-5pm – after agitators began protesting since early morning. The protesters who had blazed the Janakpur Customs Office building three days ago put its vehicles to aflame. On the other hand, Lahaan, the epicentre of the eastern Terai region from where the spark of unrest got spread, remained comparatively calm today. Continue reading Birgunj Protest and Chitwan Rally

Tension in Terai: Protest and Curfew Continue

The local administrations in the eastern Terai today extended curfew orders in various parts of the region that was under the grip of violent demonstrations and unrest for the last few days. Tensions, however, have gone down a notch with city centers remaining comparatively quieter although there have been reports of sporadic protests since early morning today. The District Administration Office (DAO) Birgunj today clamped yet another 10-hour curfew effective from 10am to 8pm after the situation did not appear to be improving. Likewise, DAO Lahan issued a four-hour curfew order beginning at 12 noon. Meanwhile, a rally staged prior to the curfew in Lahan today traversed the city, reminding the residents that the ongoing protests were not communal in nature and urged Lahan residents not to make it so. (more)

The district administration in Parsa has issued curfew orders in Birgunj from Thursday after the protests organized by Madheshi Peoples’ Rights Forum (MPRF) turned violent and communal. Foreigners like these seen in the photo had to walk up to Simra Airport (as long as 29 kilometers) Friday, 26 Jan to go to Kathmandu as there were no vehicles on the street. Pic by Subodh Singh Continue reading Tension in Terai: Protest and Curfew Continue

Tense Southern Nepal: Terai Demonstrations

Quick info: Nepal is geographically divided into three regions: Himal (Mountains), Pahad (Hills) and Terai or Madhesh (Plain). People residing in those areas are called Himali, Pahadi and Madheshi.

Biratnagar, a town in Terai Nepal, was tense today as Madheshi Peoples’ Right Forum (MPRF) called for Banda (strike). A group of residents opposing the Banda clashed with those supporting it. Forum activists vandalized 18 trucks loaded with production materials and destroyed 11 buses that were parked in the bus park. As the mob started vandalizing everything around the district administration of Morang imposed curfew effective from 4 PM to 10 PM targeting major precincts. The demonstrations continued as the curfew came into effect and police fired 18 rounds in air and 24 tear gas shell. All pics and reports by Bhim Ghimire

biratnagar strike

Madheshi Peoples’ Right Forum (MPRF) activists with lathis in their hands Continue reading Tense Southern Nepal: Terai Demonstrations

Nepal in Transition: Curfews in Terai, Fire is Spreading

Curfew in Siraha, Janakpur, Birgunj and Biratnagar (here is more)

News reports coming from Terai parts of eastern Nepal are indeed alarming. The fire is spreading rapidly. The authorities were forced to impose curfew in Birjung today (1.30 PM to 10 PM) afternoon after doing the same in the past few days in Lahan and, from yesterday, in Dhanusha. The chairman of Madhesi Peoples’ Rights Forum (MPRF), the outfit that is behind some of these protests, Upendra Yadav has responded positively to the Prime Minister’s call for talks yesterday even though he has intended to continue the protest. To continue “peaceful protest” in these times means no other than turning them into violent one and creating communal fire that threatens to engulf the whole nation. Some people with vested interest are definitely trying to fish in the dirty water. Some have fresh ambitions of becoming a “leader” by exploiting these situations.

Reports from Birjung suggest that those who are organizing these protests had planned for these situations for quite some time. A reporter from the town said: “They started circulating video CDs of Nepalgunj communal tension from Poush 1 and they issued circular to forcefully take out topis (caps) from people of pahade (hill) community.” Even those these groups are claiming to fight for the benefit of Teraians (people from flat region) they are basically targeting the pahades and trying to make the whole affair a communal conflict rather than the fight for the better representation of Teraians in the state of affairs.

That is why we are seeing a group after another in Terai these days that is claiming to fight for Teraians. Maoist breakaway faction has been spitted into two (Goit and Jwala Singh) and there is MPRF. There are other small time groups that are trying to emerge as the leader in the crisis by doing things that hurt the social harmony. Do all these people who are protesting in various parts really understand what they are doing? Are they all Nepalis? Are all these groups or persons behind the unrest politically motivated? If so, why can’t they wait until the CA elections and vote for the change that they want. After all, Constituent Assembly is the forum that is supposed to be working on restructuring the nation and overhauling the ruling structure of Nepal. Why are these folks trying to disturb the biggest democratic exercise that people of this country are about to exercise for the first time in history?

The letter above is written by Goit faction of Terai Janatantrik Mukti Morcha (TJMM), a breakaway faction of Maoist, to the owners of industries, banks and other financial institutions in Terai area. The letter “orders” to fire all staffs of pahade origin (hill) and hire educated Madhesi or youths from Terai within seven days. The letter was written some 9 days ago. “Harsh action will be taken if our cadres, who will come to inspect your office, find any pahade staff.” says the letter. It instructs not to give donations to any of the seven parties or the Maoists. “If you receive threats from those parties for not giving donations we will protect you,” states the letter. UWB erased the name of the addressee and date.

The Royal Moustache and Baluwataar Tea Pary

gyanendra shah moustache Gyanendra, the ‘ousted’, rejected and ejected (any other words out there?) king, has sported the mustache, huh? Don’t dare to dismiss this as yet another Gyanendra bashing cheap joke but that was the talk of the town today after newspapers in Kathmandu came up with front page image of the monarch in question. Gyanendra with moustache? No serious answer was received though. Honestly, people in my circle hate to even pronounce the name Gyanendra, such is the intensity of hatred towards the monarchy that is on the verge of disappearing from Nepal. Or, so we like to think about! Anyway, moustache for Birendra, Gyanendra’s brother and the king till the palace massacre in 2001, seemed unmovable part of the facial structure. Birendra’s son Dipendra also used sport junga (and occasionally beard or daari). I don’t claim this is the first time I have seen Gyanendra with moustache but I think I don’t remember seeing him with mustache before. Paras occasionally sports junga but haven’t seen him with daari so far. Anyway, I don’t remember if seeing a dariwal Paras. Am I already giving 197 words to junga of Gyanendra, who according to news reports, have been removed from the bank notes?

On the serious note, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala today hosted a tea party for leaders of Seven Party Alliance and Maoist party in his residence in Baluwataar. Was that just a chiya party? No way, Koirala actually wanted to thrash Prachanda, the chairman of the Maoist party, for the latter’s irresponsible and deplorable behavior in Lahan, Siraha recently. Yes, telephone conversations between Koirala and Prachanda are taking place almost regularly but the chiya meeting was needed because something serious is happening in Siraha and other parts of Terai and that needs to be addressed collectively by the SPA and Maoist leadership. This is the chance to make something difference. There is no way you can ignore it and move ahead as if you are unaffected. That is exactly why these words came from Koirala, otherwise a hardliner, in today’s meeting:

“All of us have our right to speak and express our views as this is a nation which has unity in diversity. Therefore all our problems should be resolved through dialogue. So, I request the people of Madhes to resolve their problems through talks. If we tried to walk away from dialogue, the reactionary forces could rise and the nation could be in danger. The ‘regressive forces’ could take advantage of any protests for the time being.”

Koirala is right in his words and intentions. They are raising some valid issues but Goit, Jwala and Madhesi Peoples’ Rights Forum and a few other known/unknown groups are increasingly turning into the weapons of reactionary forces (who are sporting jungas and may be daaris) and Indian religious fundamentalists. I know what Maoists did in Lahan (fired upon a crowd) was deplorable but I think Prachanda must be taken seriously when he says “Hindu extremists are behind Terai unrest.” He said:

“A few days ago some Hindu followers had a gathering at Gorakhpur in India (bordering Nepal). Some elements, who were involved in terrorizing Madhes, also participated in the gathering, which has already been publicized in the media. These incidents (recent unrest) happened after that. Therefore some Hindu extremists, not through religious belief but acting as extremists and royalist forces, who are against the Constituent Assembly elections, are involved in the incidents.”

Unfortunately Prachanda didn’t feel responding to the question, at least publicly, why on Earth his —- cadres were roaming around armed in Lahan and killed the boy. -Wagle

For the record: Monitoring of Maoist arms management at Shaktikhor, Chitwan was halted abruptly on Tuesday (23 Jan) as a string of arguments arose between the UN team and Maoist cadres, Kantipur reports. Sources said the UN team refused to register those Maoist cadres who seemed to be of the ages of 12 to 15 – but the team was pressurized to register them as 18-year-olds – which gave rise to an argument, with the UN team ultimately deciding to stop the registration process. Maoist deputy commander Barsha Man Pun ‘Ananta’ confirmed the news and informed that from Wednesday (24 Jan) the registration process will resume.