Nepal: Time for Talks as Violence Continues
Nepal: Time for Talks as Violence Continues
Koirala, Prachanda, and other senior politicians to blame for strife in Terai
It was in April of last year when the Nepalese took to the streets, defying curfew orders in Kathmandu to bring an end to the totalitarian rule of King Gyanendra. The smoke of the uprising hasn’t disappeared yet, nor has the blood of the people been washed away. About two dozen people lost their lives in the mass movement, many are still undergoing treatment. But the people’s sacrifices have gone to waste. The Nepalese should not have put their trust in these politicians who have only given, if anything, poverty, bloodshed and rank discrimination and inequality. As if the nineteen days of April Uprising and two dozen lives were not enough to build a “New Nepal,” another 15 Nepalese have lost their lives in the last 14 days of the Madhesi Uprising.
A day after Prime Minister Koirala’s national address, people have started to engage in political discussion once again. “Terai is burning,” and it is the burning issue of post-Gyanendra Nepal. Even CPN-Maoists have realized, albeit late, that the Madhesi people’s demands should be addressed without any further delay. CPN-Maoists called a press conference today to express the formal standing of the party on the Madhesi issue. At a five-star hotel in Kathmandu, the press meet was underway while outside of the hotel, Terai was in flames — at least five people died while scores of protesters were injured in a clash between police and protesters on Thursday.
According to Jyotinews correspondent Om Aastha Rai, the police opened fire against the protesters who were staging demonstrations defying curfew orders in Inaruwa, headquarter of Sunsari district. In retaliation, the protestors vandalized and set ablaze various government offices. Baton-charging policemen, reportedly killed at least five and injured about 50 protestors.
In many parts of Terai the police have used extensive force to bring the situation under control. But they have failed to bring the region back to normalcy. The protests and demonstrations are going on in every part of Terai — the Madhesi Uprising has already engulfed the country.
Meanwhile, the legitimate demands of Madhesi people and several other indigenous communities have been welcomed by the nation. Even CPN-Maoists who are still dismissing any chance of holding dialogues with Madhesi leaders or groups like Madhesi People’s Rights’ Forum or Janatantrick Terai Liberation Front have agreed to address “the genuine demands of the Terai communities.”
Speaking at the press conference organized by the party to address the Madhesi Andolan in Kathmandu, Chairman Prachanda said that the Madhesi people’s demands for self-rule, a federal republic and regional autonomy will be addressed, but that the people should remain vigilant as there are some counter-revolutionary elements who are trying to instigate violence and unrest in the region.
“We raised the demands of federal government set-up and proportional electoral system in the country, so we support the Madhesi people’s demands. We have been obliged to launch another peaceful Andolan (movement) to support their Andolan,” Prachanda said. “However, we are alert that some foreign powers (America) and radical Hindus from India are disrupt the Constituent Assembly elections by fueling Terai unrest.”
PM Koirala, Chairman Prachanda and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, as well as Nepal Sadhbhava Party – Anandadevi should be held responsible for the rising mess in the Terai. While PM Koirala failed to see the “fast building of the uprising” or to address “the basic grievances of Madhesis in terms of unequal political participation, discrimination in civil and security services and economic exploitation,” he also resisted declaring Nepal a republic and closing the issue once and for all, and for excluding the issues of federalism and proportional representation from the comprehensive peace agreement and interim constitution.
Aditya Man Shrestha wrote in “Madhesi uprising: The beginning of the end of Nepal” (THT- Feb 1) that PM Koirala should be blamed for asking the Madhesis to wait till the Constituent Assembly is constituted to get their rightful claims over state power. Whereas he himself did not have to wait to appoint his daughter, cousins and henchmen in the legislature, diplomatic services and political positions. Shrestha further wrote that Chairman Prachanda and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai aggravated the situation by using provocative language against their former allies, who have now turned into their adversaries.
However, the current need is to find solutions to the burning problems of the Terai region. It is high time that the Madhesi leaders who think themselves as the representatives of the Terai people should sit in talks with the government.
On Wednesday PM Koirala called all agitating parties for talks, and Maoists have also said that they don’t have any objections if the government holds talks with MPRF or JTMM. Now, the Madhesi people have the responsibility to find peaceful measures to raise their “genuine” and legitimate demands.
If they continue to be carried away by violence, as happened in Inaruwa on Thursday, it is clear that the counter-revolutionary elements will put the newly restored democracy under threat. Even JTMM, which attacked a police station in Biratnagar on Wednesday, leaving one policeman killed and abducting three others, should realize that the peaceful April Uprising achieved what Maoists couldn’t even after a 12-year-long people’s war.
It’s time for talks. If the leaders of the major political parties don’t initiate the process immediately, then the agitating parties should initiate the process of opening up dialogs. It’s not the matter of personal or political dignity, but the matter of the whole country. If the leaders miss this opportunity, the Nepali people will lose their own leaderships and blame them for destroying Nepal. The daughter of Terai — Goddess Sita — has cursed this country, but these political leaders can turn it into a blessing if only they could be honest, visionary, and farsighted.
But we know they are not, and that’s the greatest problem of the country.
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