Kathmandu, March 14
The government today issued a 35-day deadline to the public to hand over firearms, such as rifles and revolvers, and ammunition that they possess illegally, as it cracks down on activities that can destabilise peace in the country.
“People who do not have a licence to possess weapons and ammunition should surrender those items at the nearest police station, district administration office or barracks of Nepali Army within 35 days,” Minister of Communications and Information Technology Gokul Prasad Baskota told the weekly press meeting today.
“This rule also applies for licensed arms and ammunitions if license owners have passed away without transferring the ownership of those items to their kin or others.”
People who give up weapons and ammunition will not face any action, according to Minister Baskota.
The government’s latest announcement comes two days after it banned all activities of Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal and labelled it a “terrorist outfit”.
“The government’s decision to ban the Chand-led group and declare it a terrorist outfit was constitutional and as per the provisions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act-2013,” Baskota said.
His statement comes at a time when questions are being raised about the constitutionality of such a decision. The government’s latest decision has also not gone down well with some of the leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
“The decision we have taken is not unconstitutional, so there is nothing to worry about,” said Baskota, adding, “Even the main opposition Nepali Congress has welcomed the decision.”
The government, according to the minister, had to take action against the Chand-led outfit, as it repeatedly refused to sit for talks when called by a high-level political dialogue team formed under lawmaker Som Prasad Pandey to talk to agitating and disgruntled groups.
“The government even agreed to their condition that their cadres be released from jail to bring them to the negotiating table. But they never showed seriousness about holding talks,” said the minister, calling on the CPN to renounce violence and come to the negotiating table. Baskota said the government was still willing to sit for talks with the Chand-led group.
“We’ll welcome them with a red carpet. But we’ll never tolerate activities aimed at spreading terror,” Baskota said, warning of “stern action against the group and its members if they are found involved in terror activities, such as attacks on a hydropower project and a telecommunications company, in which one person died”.
A version of this article appears in print on March 15, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.