Security change raises Maoists’ hackles

Kathmandu, July 23:

The CPN-Maoist today expressed serious concern about the deployment of “highly trained” army personnel of the Bhairabnath Battalion as special security officers of five Maoist ministers.

The party demanded immediate dissolution of the Ranger force and other forces meant for warfare.

A statement issued at a press meet at the Maoists’ parliamentary party office in Singha Durbar, said: “At a time when the war has ended and the country is moving towards peace, all forces meant for warfare should be disbanded immediately.”

The statement — signed by five Maoist ministers, Minister for Information and Communication Krishna Bahadur Mahara; Local Development Minister Dev Gurung; Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation Matrika Yadav; Minister for Physical Planning and construction Hishila Yami; and Minister for Women and Social Welfare Khadag Bahadur Biswokarma — said the deployment and consolidation of the army should not happen unless the “basis of restructuring” of the national army is formed.

Addressing the meet, Mahara said: “This (deployment of the special security) has raised suspicions on the role and strategy of the army with regards to the November 22 constituent assembly polls.”

The Nepali Army, which has been a major hurdle to the democratic process in Nepal’s modern history, needs to be democratised, he added.

Mahara lamented the way PM Girija Prasad Koirala ignored their repeated requests for appointment to discuss the matter.

He said that had the government been serious on providing special security, it should have given it to all 22 ministers. He expressed doubts on whether the army is under the control of the government. Mahara also said that his party will be compelled to “seriously rethink” their

participation in the government if the army continues its current “attitude.”

Mahara said that even Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula expressed ignorance on the deployment of the security to the Maoist ministers.

“We are wondering whether the PM is under the army or the NA is run by the PM,” Minister Yadav said.

MPs want PM to clarify

KATHMANDU: Maoist lawmakers on Monday demanded PM Girija Prasad Koirala be present in Parliament to clarify the government’s “intentions” in deploying army personnel as “special security” to Maoist ministers.

“This has raised serious suspicions over the government’s intentions,” CPN-Maoist whip, Janardhan Sharma told the Parliament. Sharma asked: “Why did the government provide special security to Maoist ministers only?” He warned that his party would launch another “war” if the PM kept on “misusing” the army.

MP Homnath Dahal of the NC (D) said providing “special security” only to Maoist ministers is a matter of “concern”. He, however, criticised the Maoists for their “double-standards.” “On one hand, they demand ‘jumbo’ security for Prachanda, while on the other they criticise the government for providing special security for their ministers.” — HNS

Army’s reaction

Kathmandu: Nepalese Army (NA) has expressed concern about the dissatisfaction and remarks made on the security system being provided to VIPs as per the government’s direction and Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Issuing a statement on Monday, NA’s Directorate of Public Relations said the Army has deployed security personnel from different units in Kathmandu for VIP security. — HNS