80 families’ land still in Maoists’ grip

Siraha, August 31:

The Maoists have not yet returned 1,200 bigha of land belonging to 80 families in Siraha district, though Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ had directed Maoist cadres to return the seized land, houses and properties to their rightful owners.

In the 12-point agreement reached between the Maoists and seven political parties

on November 22, 2005, the Maoists have promised to return seized land and properties to the rightful owners.

The comprehensive peace accord signed by the government and the Maoists on November 21, 2006 states that a committee comprising the Maoists and the government would be formed to facilitate the return of seized land and properties and reinstatement of the displaced.

“Due to the lack of consensus among parties, such a committee has not taken shape in

the district,” said CDO Bal Krishna Panthi. “For the same reason, we have been unable to distribute relief provided by the government to conflict victims,” he added.

The 25-point code of conduct drafted by the Maoists and the government in May last year also says seized land and properties should be returned to the rightful owners. The code of conduct has not been enforced in the district yet, the displaced said. Altogether 225 persons were displaced from the district during the conflict.

“The Maoists had seized land and houses of 1,200 persons of at least 80 families in the district during the conflict,” said Devraj Pokhrel, Siraha district representative of the INSEC.

The displaced have not returned to the district also because they are afraid of the Tarai-based armed groups, he added. “The Maoists and leaders of other political parties have not taken initiatives to return the seized land and houses and facilitate the return of the displaced to the district,” said Sitadevi Yadav, Nepali Congress district president.

“The party has not directed us to end the seizure of land and houses,” said Dilip Shah Maoist district coordinator.