Tag Archives: Nepal in Transition

Nepal in Transition: Public Trial For Past Crimes

If we want to solve the Terai issue, we must first try the criminals- from Nepalgunj, Rhitik Roshan kanda, Iraq kanda till now. This is the first step to say ‘we are sorry’. This is the first step to restore social harmony.

By Ram Bahadur Chhetri [This is not a real name]

1. Rhitik Roshan Kanda happened almost inscrutably and very swift. A few kids in Narayanghat started a rumor that the Bollywood heartthrob said something against Nepal, and the ‘offended’ people, like sheep falling from precipice, were hysteric. In Kathmandu, the worst element of society raised their head, and started to beat anyone who looked like a Madhesi. I was a regular surfer at Sajha.com at the time, and to my joy, almost all the visitors condemned those vandals who were attacking other unarmed, and weak people under the false pretext.

2. One impunity gives rise to another. Government failed to gauge the extent of how much deeply society has started to drift away from each other. The government didn’t act like a government, there was no guilty pursued, no punishment meted out, there was crime, but not punishment. What kind of civilization could that be? What could the logical next step be in the evolution of that society?

3. In the aftermath of Iraq massacre of 12 people, a logical next step was in front of us. Like a tiger that has tasted human flesh already, the mob that had tasted the perverse joy of beating fellow human started to beat the Muslims, free press, and other entrepreneurs. The government promised stern action, but there were none. The government exists in Nepal only to extract resources from outside and pour it in Kathmandu.

4. Like a sequence of numbers converging to a point, the next element in our social chaos came sooner than the first two. We had Nepalgunj mobbing. We all saw the mockery of state. We all saw the crime. This time the video shows that the state actively abetted crime.

Where does it take us? Where will we go from here? There will not be peace, no social harmony if we leave these criminals walk free and the innocent sufferers cringe forever. There should be trial(s), there should be judgment, there should be lessons and there shouldn’t be any forgiveness because forgiveness is not justice.

Last summer, as I returned from the Maoist affected area and was walking in Kathmandu, I had this eerie, ghoulish feeling; I couldn’t help thinking that the policemen who reportedly raped mother and daughter together in one of the western districts were still free, and they could be walking next to me. The Maoists who slit the throat of a young man in Myagdi were free, and they too could be walking next to me. In deed, our jails are either empty or broken or have innocent newborns along with their guilty parents, while the roads are full of criminals. And once you commit a crime, your inhibition lessens. You feel more comfortable committing other crimes: of more serious nature or of similar nature.

“The intellectuals in Kathmandu are incestuous bunch”, commented a friend of mine this summer, “They hang out with the ministers, or other government officials. The most they can ask is resignation of a minister. They will never ask for a minister to be sent to jail.” In deed, a rich man never goes to jail in Nepal as one report in Himal Magazine said.

If we want to solve the Terai issue, we must first try the criminals- from Nepalgunj, Rhitik Roshan kanda, Iraq kanda till now. This is the first step to say ‘we are sorry’. This is the first step to restore social harmony. I don’t believe the social harmony can be established by giving more seats in parliament alone or by some other cosmetic measures. Separate states bla bla are also mainly for powerful ones. Let’s also pursue the justice. Let us make our country strong by making everybody feel empowered. Let’s push the government for a big public trial-something like Nuremberg, something like Eichmann trials, let’s expose the racists in the government. During Eichmann trial, I remember reading somewhere else that the trial was long, even though Eichmann’s guilt was never in doubt, they called hundreds of witnesses. Because they wanted a full story to emerge, give the victims a moment of catharsis.

A public trial of such a big scale, possibly televised, will give a strong message to the racist officers, and victims: that there is a government, there is the law, and that there are a whole lot of countrymen who support such measure.

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

Fate of a King: Poor and Powerless Overnight

By Ameet Dhakal
News Editor, the Kathmandu Post

gyanendra king of nepalThe Shah Kings, through royal decree, usurped power and amassed wealth umpteen times during the last 238 years. But today (15 Jan) people have turned the tables on the monarchy: By proclaming a constitution invoking their sovereign rights the people have made the reigning king both poor and powerless overnight.

The king will no longer act as head of state – let alone exercise any political power. Significantly, the constitution has also snatched away a major chunk of the royal assets. According to the interim constitution, property belonging to the late King Birendra will go into a trust and the property inherited by King Gyanendra by virtue of ascending the throne will be nationalized. But the king will continue to enjoy his private property, including his businesses. How much does the king own in business? Contrary to popular perception, The Kathmandu Post investigation revealed that he owns “very little”

The common perception that the king is “super rich” comes from an assumption that he owns a majority share in the Soaltee Group, which does not exist any longer. However, the investigation also revealed that he owned only a “miniscule” share in the Group’s businesses that expanded rapidly over last two decades. Before being dismantled in December 2005, the Group had nine business enterprises in its fold: Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd, Bhotekoshi Company Pvt Lt, Himal International Power Corporation, Sipradi Trading Pvt Ltd, Gorkha Lawrie Pvt Ltd, Himalaya Goodricke Pvt Ltd, Amaravati International Pvt Ltd, Maersk Nepal Pvt Ltd and Amaravati Travels Pvt Ltd. Out of these nine enterprises, Gorkha Lawrie was sold off in 2004.

Now a majority of these enterprises are owned and managed by Tara Management, which belongs to Prabhakar Sumsher Rana and his son, Siddhartha Rana. Records at the Office of the Company Registrar show that the king and his family own only 0.15 percent share in Himal International Power Corporation; 56 percent in Himal Goodricke, 40 percent in Soaltee Hotel and 10 percent in Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd.

But the king and his family have no share in Bhotekoshi Company Pvt Ltd, Sipradi Trading Pvt Ltd, Amaravati International Pvt Ltd, Amaravati Travels Pvt Ltd and Maersk Nepal Pvt Ltd. Among the enterprises that the king has a share in, both Soaltee Hotel and Himal Goodricke are currently loss making ventures. While Soaltee Hotel, a public limited company, hasn’t distributed any dividend for the last six years, Himal Goodricke has paid out about Rs 1.5 million as dividend during the last one decade. The only company that seems to be paying a significant dividend to the royal family is Surya Nepal. Last year it paid Rs 12.5 million to the family.

A source privy to King Gyanendra’s financial situation said, “The income from his [king’s] businesses is hardly enough to meet his expenses.” The source also said the king often withdrew dividends from the companies in advance. This claim has a lot of credence since officials at the Kaushitosh Khana – the office that disburses state sanctioned funds to the royal palace – also said the palace used to withdraw all annual allocations within 48 hours of the budget announcement till last year.

The source also claimed that King Gyanendra was neck deep in debt by the time he ascended the throne in June 2001. “In 2002, he sold 10 percent of his stake in Surya Nepal to Indian Tobacco Company Ltd and used the proceeds to repay his huge debt.” In terms of share capital, the king and his family have Rs 80 million worth of share capital in Soaltee Hotel; Rs 6.5 million in Himal Goodrick; Rs 33.6 million in Surya Nepal and Rs 250 thousand in Himal International Power Corporation.

Nepal in Transition: Terai Secession Is a Myth

As twin kids of the Maoists escalate their violence in eastern Terai in the name of the so called ‘Terai’ nation, it becomes increasingly difficult to see how any educated realist from Terai could ever support them.

By Chhatra Bahadur [This article first appeared in a private discussion forum and UWB is publishing this article with writer’s permission. Chhatra Bahadur is not a real name.]

Almost all failed politicians in Nepal sooner or later tend to resort to the dirtiest method available to them. Look at Padma Ratna Tuladhar. After being rejected by his own population in election, the old lion has now turned into a reckless elephant, destroying houses and farms with the manufactured claim of marginalization of Newars. Now give me a break. Newars are among the richest, most educated people. They have become prime minister, and were private secretary of the kings. And the vaunted Newar culture of Kathmandu was a thing of past when Prithvi Narayan attacked Kathmandu. If you remove the reign of Bhupatindra Malla, Siddi Narasingh Malla and Pratap Malla, and subtract the contribution of Licchavi, what will be left about Kathmandu is a continuous fight in the valley among the Malla kingdoms. The last king Jaya Prakash Malla was fighting with his own people for most of his reign, and was betrayed by his own people when he finally fell to Gorkha. Ditto with tumultuous Patan and gradually unstabilised Bhaktapur. Those kingdoms were sitting ducks when Prithvi took them. Truth hurts, but these are the realities, and Padma Ratna and his ilks need to face them.

I mean think about this: if a king of the poorest of the chaubise kingdom- Gorkha had no market, no mines, and with 12,000 population was considered a small country- could win three ‘mighty’ kingdoms of the valley, how safe you were really from the mighty and cunning British, who needed a ‘hill station’ and a ‘trade route’ to Tibet? The British needed a decent hill station so badly that later, they settled in a barren land later to be called Darjiling.

Padma Ratna or Keshav Sthapit are not the only whiners. After not being able to win the election, after getting downsized from 6 to 3 members in parliament, Nepal Sadbhavana Party had no other option but to resort more violently to the terai issue. But most important transformation came with the spoilt brats like Bimalendra Nidhi and Jaya Prakash Gupta. Nidhi lost his own election, his stature, and is not even comparable to the shadow of his illustrious father. JP Gupta’s latest book is nothing but a chronicle of self victimization when he was indubitably a corrupt man who is free now exactly because of corruptibility of present judiciary. These people now talk loudly about victimization of Terai.

As twin kids of the Maoists escalate their violence in eastern Terai in the name of the so called ‘Terai’ nation, it becomes increasingly difficult to see how any educated realist from Terai could ever support them. Just like most of the Nepali rejected the Maoists despite the feeling that some of their core demands stemmed from legitimate concerns, decent people in Terai are going to reject these firebrand opportunists, while maintaining that their demand do have valid foundation, and that we all need to work out the future path nonviolently.

Think about this: what would a free Terai look like? Now, Chitwan and Makwanpur are the districts heavily populated by “Pahadiyas”, so heavy indeed that Sadbhabana party didn’t even field a candidate in Chitwan in the past elections. Since these districts touch India, any country of “Terai” will be like pre-1971 Pakistan, geographically separate. To go to Rupandehi from Siraha, one will have to go from India or a part of Nepal. In the long run, like erstwhile Pakistan, such states don’t survive.

If somehow present Terai is merged with India, the situation of Teraibasis won’t improve either. Biharis are treated pretty badly in places like Bombays or New Delhi, something similar to how ignorant Kathmanuites treat them in Kathmandu.

Talk to both JTMM factions: Jwala Singh

By Bedraj Poudel

INARUWA, Jan 13- Jwala Singh, chairman of the Janatantrik Mukti Morcha (JTMM) faction which broke away from Jai Krishna Goit, has said that the government should hold talks with a joint team of both the JTMM factions.

Talking to the Post over the telephone from an undisclosed location, Singh (Nagendra Pashwan) said, “If the seven parties can hold talks with the Maoists, why can’t the government talk to both of our factions?”

“I still consider Goit as my guide, but I don’t know why he tries to stay away,” Singh told the Post. “I want to carry him on my shoulder and take him along in the war to free the terai people.” He also denied rumors of his party threatening to disrupt the citizenship distribution and expressed his party’s commitment to helping in that task.

“We possess no differences over constituent assembly and citizenship distribution,” he said, adding, “But, we will tell people not to take citizenship certificates being distributed by Pahades (people hailing from the hilly region).”

The fact is there is no shortcut to gain respect. Teraibasis need to work hard, produce more intelligent professionals such as doctors or engineers, keep their towns safe and clean. If all the news they hear from Terai is about witches being fed faeces, or brides immolated due to dowry concern of in-laws, or grooms chosen in open market, how can members of another community genuinely respect that community? Sherpas who were considered inferior and dirty in the past now has earned enormous respect for themselves sheerly due to hardwork. When I went to Solukhumbu recently, I was so impressed with the region above Lukla that I told about it to everybody in my village. On the other hand, a villager of mine who went to Janakpur to work writes how ‘big’ Janakpur’s mosquitoes are, and how difficult it is to go to cyber cafe and write a brief email to me.

Terai has problems, issues, and it is time educated and brave Teraibasis take those issues courageously. Letting people like Goit, or Nidhi or Jwala Singh hijack these issues does no one good, prolongs the pain of Terai, and is harmful to the whole nation. It is important first to recognize that there are no constitutional discriminations against Terai anymore, and that we must work peacefully to break the remaining barriers.

Related blog:
JTMM Terror In Siraha

Now, Restructuring State of Nepal Is the Key

Preliminary political realism: Nepal had almost gotten the status of ‘failed sate’ recently and if the current political development fails to restructure the sate, country will soon fall back to the dark old stage of regression.

By Prakash Bom in Queens, New York

The landmark peace accord between SPA and the Maoists is historic though it is not immune to the challenges ahead. The fundamental challenge it faces is: Restructuring of the state. The failure of the post-1990 multi-party democracy lies in the inability to restructuring the state. Take this an example: popularly elected district chairpersons were ignored from forming a district administrative cabinet. Instead the major political party leaderships chose to continue with feudal oligarchic political tradition of appointing a government employee as district chief officer. To our surprise it is still in effect. This means the urgency of restructuring the state (with electoral democratic institutions in top priority) is yet to be materialized. Continue reading Now, Restructuring State of Nepal Is the Key

Nepal's India Yatra: Great Expectations

An editorial in the Kathmandu Post titled Koirala’s visit.

It has become a tradition. India is the first official destination for every successive prime minister. China is the second one. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has also decided not to break the practice. Postponing his medical visit to Bangkok, Koirala is embarking on a three day visit to India seeking economic and political support for the newly established democratic government. Reportedly, Koirala is formally requesting for a special economic assistance package. Apart from this, Koirala would also seek India’s blessing for the success of the peace talks with the Maoists. Kathmandu wants Delhi to back the UN role in disarming the Maoists, if the need be. Koirala must be in an upbeat mood because Indian newspapers have already announced that India is planning a “mega economic” package for Nepal. The visit of the prime minister is, therefore, expected to garner support for the economic development and political stability. Continue reading Nepal's India Yatra: Great Expectations