"बिद्रोह गर्नु माओबादीको मत्रै हक होइन, सर्बसाधारण नेपाली जनता को हक हो।"
Recent news, public opinion polls and data produced by human rights monitoring groups unanimously point to the deteriorating law and order situation in Nepal as the biggest obstacle to constituent assembly elections. The voices that once appeased the chief perpetrators of today’s violence (most notably from Nepal’s elite media and civil society circles) are on the wane. Alongside this decline is rapidly diminishing tolerance of apologists who default to the excuse of this being a “transition period” in response to accusations of government complacency and ineffectiveness.
In combination, the result of these trends is a worrying indication of possible government action, backed by a media barrage of half-truths and hyped public sentiment. The Nepali public is being overwhelmed by misinformation that masks the real issues and aims to address the “symptoms” but leave the “disease” untouched.
For the reasons outlined below, the consequences of paramilitary operations (in the name of law and order) will be catastrophic to Nepal’s fragile peace, its sovereignty (what little remains) and to the overall integrity of the Nepali nation state.
1. Lack of law and order is a Maoist-bred problem, not a Madhesi problem
The facts are as follows: Both of the major armed factions running around the Terai belt and assassinating Maoists were formerly Maoists themselves. The JTMM-Goit and JTMM-Jwala Singh groups were trained in insurgency, ideologically indoctrinated and finally, armed by the Maoists who are in Nepal’s government today.
This inconvenient truth seems to evade Nepali mainstream media as attempts are made to characterize both JTMM factions as pseudo-terrorist organizations while cherishing the Maoists as mainstreamed champions of a “new Nepal.”
The hypocrisy is blatant, especially when the pattern of armed political cleansing and intolerance practiced by the Maoists (for over a decade) is now being exercised on the Maoists themselves. Two wrongs do not make a right (so the saying goes), but intentional failure to acknowledge how and why Maoist cadre are being targeted in the Madhes amounts at a minimum, to insincerity.
The fact that the Maoists were unable to capture state power through insurgent means and found it convenient to enter an alliance against an idiot King does not excuse the Maoists from their terror-based past or the crimes they perpetrated against the Nepali nation. What the JTMM factions are doing to the Maoists in the Terai is exactly what the Maoists did to the 7 party voter base all over Nepal.
If the Maoists were “rewarded” for their 12 year murder spree with government positions, on what logical grounds should the JTMM factions be denied from expecting the same (when it becomes convenient for them to canton their own arms)? Just as the Maoists believe they represent the popular will of the “people,” (a deluded claim easily disqualified by the Madhesi peoples’ uprising), JTMM cadres also believe they represent Nepal’s Madhesi people – up to 45% of the total population base (a claim that no other party in Nepal can legitimately make).
The unspoken truth is that the JTMM factions are giving the Maoists a dose of their own medicine, humiliating the Maoists in the Terai, and systematically dismantling the Maoist dream that they (and they alone) represent the popular Nepali will. Naturally, the Maoists like humiliating others but don’t take kindly to being humiliated themselves.
Thus, a skewed focus on armed Madhesi factions (as the root-cause of deteriorating law and order in Nepal) - is a foucs that lacks holistic analysis to accoubt for the origination of the violent methods or the ramifications of accelerating this myopic point-of-view.
In the hype of constituent assembly elections, it seems lost on the politically active Nepalis how dangerous a view-point this is, and how it puts the entire Madhesi population at risk. This is a situation that is easily avoided and knowingly escalating the situation is unacceptable by any standard.
2. Not all Madhesis are JTMM just like not all Padadis are Maoists
The current Nepali government (including the Nepali Maoists) is leading a targeted campaign of double-standards to place the blame of insecurity on armed (breakaway Maoist) groups in Nepal’s southern belt – the Nepali Madhes (or Terai).
With every passing day, the probability of conformation along ethnic lines increases, as the Nepali government (guided by a coalition of men of similar ethnic background – popularly referred to as the “Bahunists”), gears up to launch security operations in the Nepali Madhes.
The need to uphold law and order in Nepal is paramount. But any suggestion that the application of force (increased security operations, joint Maoist-Armed Police Force action) will improve law and order, is plain stupid.
The failure of the same politicians in power today to initiate a concerted political campaign to complement security measures resulted in a political victory for the Maoists. A repetition of the same mistake of greying the lines between the armed Madhesi factions and the legitimate, political, Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (MJF) amounts to the same blunder – the attempt to treat a political issue, without broad political consensus, using force that ultimately results in civil war.
What increased rhetoric from Nepal’s Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitoula (and subsequently from the Inspector General of Police Om Bikram Rana) amounts to is this: A convergence of interests between the parties in government and the Maoists.
Having committed themselves to a date for constituent assembly elections, the non-Maoist faction finds itself compelled to “improve” the law and order situation urgently. At the same time, the groups that have lost popular vote banks in the Madhes (the Maoists, the Nepali Congress and the UML), also find it convenient to collectively undermine the MJF (under the pretext of confronting groups like the two JTMM factions).
Given this context, one finds claims of the phenomenon of Bahunism (and Bahnuist domination of Nepal) to be more than just a conspiracy theory.
Any notion of “special security arrangements” that exclusively targets armed factions in the Madhes (and by default results in the loss of more innocent Madhesi lives) will be a policy disaster of unimaginable proportions. The mere fact that such operations using paramilitary forces (the Armed Police Force) is even being contemplated, is completely unacceptable.
The parties in power (and especially the Maoists) must reckon with the political reality that the violent JTMM tactics are not endorsed by the MJF (or the Madhesi population-at-large). The fear of losing constituencies in the Madhes region is a political issue that is separate from law and order. This political issue needs a political solution which once had, will automatically incapacitate armed movements in the Terai. Any attempts at maintaining ethnic domination using the pretext of law and order will be futile.
3. If law and order is the main issue, start by taming the Maoists
The real key to solving insecurity in Nepal lies in taming the Maoists, the Young Communist League, and not just by storing Maoist weapons (and cantoning combatants that didn’t make the ranks of the YCL), but by permanently decommissioning stored weapons and sending Maoist combatants where they belong – in UNMIN cantonments.
The dysfunctional nature of UNMIN's involvement in Nepal has surfaced repeatedly. It came up when Ian Martin said that only Human Rights Watch had claimed that children were in the ranks of cantoned Maoists (when a week prior, a UN agency made the same observation); technically speaking, it came up when Ian Martin claimed that the first phase of UN arms monitoring was complete (as in all Maoist combatants had been cantoned), an issue that now is easily debated by statements made by Prachanda on CNN-IBN (when the Maoists leader casually stated that some PLA commanders were in the ranks of the YCL).
Most pointedly, UNMIN’s dysfunctionality is demonstrated by an OHCHR report that states the following: “Many of the 45-member YCL Central Committee appointed in early February are former People’s Liberation Army (PLA) commanders and commissars who left the PLA and transferred to the YCL rather than assembling in the PLA cantonment sites subsequently set up as part of the peace agreement.” It would be an understatement to say that any phase of monitoring is complete given the knowledge that Maoist military commanders occupy the ranks of the YCL.
However, UNMIN aside, the real dysfunction lies within the ranks of Nepal’s government itself. That Nepal’s so-called democratic parties and the Nepali nation-at-large are being held hostage a specific Maoist agenda - peace on Maoist terms - is no longer an unsubstantiated claim. This idea has been validated by so many events (and so many times), it has become cliché.
The Maoists violate one covenant after another in every signed agreement; they endorse vigilantism within the ranks of the YCL; they knowingly aggravate and encourage confrontation in the Madhes; they engage in fear-mongering by making misleading public statements (whatever happened to the claim of Royalist elements threatening American citizens or the Madhesi uprising being sponsored by feudal, regressive forces?).
And given the abundance of documented information (which is publicly available), should Nepal’s government even speculate where the source of instability (and lack of law and order) lies? If the YCL were disbanded tomorrow and the Maoists practiced what they have agreed to on paper, 90% of Nepal’s insecurity would be resolved right then and there.
Yet, when it comes to the question of law and order, Krishna Sitoula and Girija Prasad Koirala are predisposed to looking at Nepal’s south to engineer stability for CA elections? Shouldn’t they be focusing on the obvious, first?
All this talk of the political parties campaigning jointly or the adoption of special security measures in time for CA polls is nonsense. Before further discussions on elections or anything remotely related to security operations are had, Nepal’s interim government had better reach a political understanding with groups like the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum and guarantee political participation beyond token representation. Otherwise, all this “talk” will amount to nothing but empty words and broken promises that will lead to another civil war.
It is grossly irresponsible of the current interim administration to even consider the adoption of security measures, the integration of Maoist combatants into the national army, or elections of any kind, without first holding the Maoists accountable to their commitments. The unrestrained appeasement of Maoists must stop now and the Maoists must be treated as equal partners in Nepal’s peace process – not as the victors of the insurgency upon whose whim the Nepali people have peace.
Searching for excuses (exclusively) in the Madhes to explain away the root-cause of insecurity is unacceptable. Failing to recognize that post-insurgency Nepal will be a country where rights are available to ALL Nepalis (not just the privileged elite or a closed knit group of Bahunists) is a reality that Nepal’s entrenched political leaders must reconcile with, urgently.
There is no single group that has claim to representing the collective Nepali will – especially not the Maoists. So if the desire for sustained peace and functional democracy are what truly occupy the Nepalese political psyche, there had better be less talk of “special security arrangements” and adopting all measures available to maintain law and order, and more talk about guaranteeing fair and balanced political representation in the constituent assembly.
Nepal Government "Pays" Maoists for Peace
Reality Check for Nepal - Part-II
Reality Check for Nepal - Part-Ihttp://nepaliperspectives.blogspot.com/2007/05/reality-check-for-nepal-part-i.html
Young, Confused and Lost (YCL) – The Hammer of the Maoist “Party” of Nepalhttp://nepaliperspectives.blogspot.com/2007/05/young-confused-and-lost-ycl-hammer-of.html
After a Year of "Loktantra" - Is it finally time for a Democratic Alliance?
Bahunists and Bahunism - A mini-Dissertation on the Caretakers of Nepal's Feudal Tradition