Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nepal turmoil: Cong for Track-2 diplomacy

Nepal turmoil: Cong for Track-2 diplomacy

NEW DELHI: In a quiet move, Congress has engaged itself in interactions with major political players in Nepal to guide and influence the course of Constitution framing in the Himalayan neighbour. The party has, in fact, suggested that India intensify dialogue with political parties and civil society in Nepal through Track-2 activity. In a note to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi last week, party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said that "India should not go slow on this historic opportunity to contribute" to the drafting of the neighbouring country's Constitution and setting the tone for its political conventions and economic activity. Recounting his wide-ranging talks with prominent Nepalese politicians during a recent visit, Singhvi said that "there could be no two views that India continues to have dominant cultural and historical influence over Nepal and that Indian models of governance are widely admired by all (there)." Singhvi recalled the apprehensions of Maoist leader Prachanda that the deposed king was making an attempt "through his agents in the government" to create violence and stage a comeback. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-2375226,prtpage-1.cms)

Indefinite strike called in Terai after Nepal leader's murder

Indo-Asian News Service

Kathmandu, Sept. 17 -- The murder of a powerful local leader in southern Nepal, which triggered sectarian violence, arson and looting, kept Kapilavastu district still simmering with tension Monday as the victim's supporters called for an indefinite shutdown.
Shops, markets and educational institutions remained closed and roads were deserted a day after unidentified gunmen shot Abdul Moit Khan, the father-in-law of late controversial minister Mirza Dilshad Beg, who was alleged to be the front man in Nepal of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

Soon after King Gyanendra seized power with the help of the army in 2005, the royal regime had armed Khan to form a vigilante group that began attacks on suspected Maoists.
Though the vigilantes killed at least 12 people and rights groups demanded action, no step was taken against Khan, who enjoyed the support of the palace, army and politicians.
According to Nepal's state media, Khan was a senior member of deposed premier Sher Bahadur Deuba's Nepali Congress (Democratic) party. Beg, who was gunned down in the capital in 1998, had been with the Nepal Sadbhavana Party - that is now a junior member in the coalition government - and the royalist Rastriya Prajatantra Party.

Khan's murder, for which his supporters are blaming the Maoists, caused the volatile plains to erupt in violence that soon started taking a sectarian colour.
Mobs set nearly 100 vehicles on fire, looted shops and attacked over three-dozen houses and hotels. They also attacked Maoist offices in Taulihawa, the district headquarters, and blocked a highway.
An Armed Police Force member, Hasan Puri, who was caught in the melee, was beaten to death.
The violence spread to Butwal town in neighbouring Rupendehi district where retaliatory attacks resulted in two mosques being torched.
There were indications that the attacks were developing into sectarian violence and the administration imposed curfew in the affected areas in Kapilavastu and Butwal.
Though curfew was lifted early Monday morning, the areas remained tense. Religious leaders and top political parties called for restraint and said they would lead a goodwill rally in Butwal to ease the situation.

The fresh violence comes with a critical election just 65 days away. Fifteen days ago, unidentified miscreants set off three bombs in the capital that killed three and injured 26 people.
The Terai plains in south Nepal have become a hotbed of violence, resulting in the death of nearly 150 people since this year.
A group of former Maoists, the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha led by Jwala Singh, has called a two-day Terai shutdown from Sunday to oppose the Nov 22 election and has threatened to start further disruptions.
An ultimatum given by the Maoist guerrillas to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala also ends Monday.

The rebels, who signed a peace pact and joined the ruling alliance, have warned they would walk out of the government and wage a new revolt if their new demands were not met by Monday.
The major demand of the guerrillas, who fought a 10-year civil war trying to overthrow Nepal's constitutional monarchy, is to have a special session of parliament abolish monarchy ahead of the election.

Though they had earlier agreed to let the election decide the fate of the king, now they have changed their stand, alleging that royalists were trying to sabotage the polls.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Indo-Asian News Service.
September 17, 2007(http://www6.lexisnexis.com/publisher/EndUser?Action=UserDisplayFullDocument&orgId=574&topicId=100039278&docId=l:670853774&isSearch=true)

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