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NEPAL: The "Six" Queries of Maoists: Deuba needs to be assertive. Update 56.

Note No.242         07. 10. 2004

by Dr. S.Chandrasekharan.

In the ongoing Maoists insurgency, it was generally thought that the Maoists having reached a stage of strategic balance and are now poised to move to the next phase of "strategic offensive." Indications to this effect were many, including the recent plenum meeting held by the Maoists referred to in the last update.

Instead, the Maoists have begun a well-calculated propaganda offensive and as part of its programme, their Chairman Prachanda had openly issued six queries to the Deuba government. This is the same Maoist leadership that had announced a few days earlier that they would rather talk to the masters meaning the King than Deuba’s government.

What has made the Maoists change their plans? Is it because they have realised that there is now a strategic stalemate as there had been no major incident of the Jumla or Dunai type? Or is it because of increasing aid in all forms promised by India to deal with the Maoist insurgency during Deuba’s successful visit?

What has gone unnoticed is the pledge given by the PRC also (People’s Republic of China) of unspecified military assistance during the meeting of Nepal’s Chief of Army Staff with his Chinese counterpart Gen.Cao Gangchuan in June 2004.

While the Chinese offer is more symbolic to counter India’s preponderant influence, the Indian assistance by way of supply of weapons, training and the arrest of Maoists ( two Politburo members and many central committee members are in their custody with many more arrests taking place in Bihar), must have upset the Maoists and India therefore figures prominently in the six queries (not China)

The Six Queries:

The six questions were

Whether the government could revert to a position prior to the days of October 4, 2002. In this, Maoists are cleverly identifying themselves with G.P. Koirala’s Congress and three other parties who are fighting against the October 4 Recession. One of the main demands is the reinstatement of the dissolved parliament which cannot be done without recourse to Article 127 of the Constitution the use of which is also opposed by the agitating parties.

Whether the government can create a conducive atmosphere with parliamentary forces for the talks to go on without interference of the military Generals and the Palace? This is because in their view the Palace and the Army hold all the cards in the present conflict and not the political parties.

The third question is more to embarrass the UML of Madhav Nepal whether the present government would dare to trace and penalise the killers of Hem Narayan Yadav, the UML leader. This has no relevance to the peace talks or to the ongoing Maoist problem or even the October 4 action of the King.

The fourth questions the sincerity of the present government in making people really sovereign through the Constituent assembly. This question is similar to the one like "when did you start beating your wife." If Deuba’s reply is yes, it would amount to accepting the constituent assembly and if he says no, then he is not sincere!

The fifth question reveals the fears of Maoists- whether Deuba’s government could bring in the good offices of the UN or similar reputed Human rights commissions for arriving at a meaningful solution by rejecting the military support from the Indian rulers?

The sixth and the last question wants Deuba government to prove by at least one example that army establishments are totally under the control of the government. This is a long-standing grievance of not only the Maoists but also some of the political parties who want to bring the army under the sovereign control of the Parliament and not the King as is provided in the Constitution.

The point is, Prachanda already knows the answers and he does not need Deuba to reply him point by point. The idea is to embarrass him, besides showing their concern on Indian assistance.

Response of the Government:

To Deuba’s credit, instead of rubbishing the queries convened a cabinet meeting and discussed all the points. On 30 September, the government made a formal Press statement through the Minister for Information, Mohammad Mohsin. The statement said that the security forces are fully under the control of the government, that it has full executive powers. Regarding people’s sovereignty, it said that the government has the power and capability to strengthen the provision to establish a system where the government is run by the representative of the sovereign people. On UN’s intervention, the release said that the government is fully capable of resolving its crisis on its own and those issues regarding the constituent assembly could be discussed when the two sides meet. There was no direct reference to Indian aid.

There were no surprises in the response. What should have surprised is the claim of the Deputy Prime Minister, B.M.Adhikari that they have already communicated the replies by a "direct telephone call"!

Antics of Madhav Nepal of UML.

It is not clear what Madhav Nepal is angry about. His group has the largest number of representatives in the dissolved parliament after the split. He has successfully placed his man B.M. Adhikari as the Deputy Prime minister overlooking the claims of K.P.Oli and Bom Dev Gautam. And he is senior enough to discuss with the Prime Minister Deuba on a one to one basis and sort out his differences. Instead we find him going to the Press on every issue. This is similar to what the Marxists are doing with the UPA government.

Firstly, Madhav Nepal made a demand that there should be a unilateral cease-fire from the side of the government. This was promptly rejected by the Cabinet. Next he said that the Government should reply to the six queries which was fine. But he added that he would come up with his responses later. His deputy Prime minister Adhikari declared in Washington that there is a possibility of "foreign intervention" ( probably referring to India) if the Maoists did not join the peace negotiations.

What Deuba needs to do now is to assert himself but at the same time consult Madhav Nepal on all major issues before going to the Press. There is a common minimum programme agreed to with the UML. Madhav Nepal is also in the high-level peace committee formed by the government. Deuba is said to have declared that the government would go ahead with the elections even if the peace talks do not take place. Nepal had objected to the statement on the ground that his party was not consulted! . Here Madhav Nepal is right.

A list of incidents since the last update is given as an appendix.

Appendix:

Incidents

September 2004

28. At least one dozen militant cadres were injured when Maoist groups clashed among themselves in the district of Dailekh.

29. A group of Maoist militants bombed and destroyed Sajha Bus at Manigram area in Rupandehi District.

30. Maoist militants shot dead Manoj Shah, a resident of Haripurwa VDC of Sarlahi, alleging him of spying on their activities.

Maoist militants shot and injured a Royal Nepalese Army captain, Prem Thapa, at Ratna Nagar in Chitwan district.

A district leader of the ruling Nepali Congress (Democratic) in Morang district.was killed. Further details are to be ascertained.

A group of armed Maoists abducted a junior police officer named Ganendra Prasad Shah from his residence in Sonarniya VDC, in mid-southern district of Rautahat. His whereabouts are not known.

At least one dozen cadres of the pro-left Jana Morcha Nepal (People's Front Nepal) were injured, when a group of armed Maoist militants attacked them at Dhorpatan in the western district of Baglung.

At least two Indian policemen were killed and three more injured in skirmishes with the Maoists near the bordering town of Aaadharpur in the Indian state of Bihar.

The Maoist militants looted 60 quintals of food grains from Gaira Bazar of the Dadeldhura-Dhangarhi highway.

           October 2004

1. Suspected Maoist militants exploded a bomb at the Land Reforms Office at Hetauda.

The copilot of a private chopper was injured when the Maoist militants opened fire on the Karnali Airways helicopter while it was flying from Surkhet to Dolpa in the mid-western region.

At least two Maoist militants, including a woman were killed in different security actions in Mugu and Sindhuli districts. 

The Maoist militants shot dead Ramakant Harijan, an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of police in Nawalparasi district.

Maoists in Udaypur district destroyed the Dumre-Panchawati Drinking Water Project in Udaypur.

2. Six Maoist militants were killed in a security operation in Sonigama ilaka of Dhanusha district.

3. The Maoists killed Rudra Patel by slitting his throat on the banks of Dudhaura River in Bara district. Patel was killed on charges of faking to be a Maoist.

5. An armed group of Maoist militants attacked at a peaceful programme, organised by pro-left Jana Morcha Nepal (People's Front Nepal) at Makundada of Dhikpur VDC in mid-western district of Dang.

Countries: